Sunday, June 29, 2003

Sunday Matrixed

Stopped by Carl the Carver's House. Used the link. Took the What Matrix Person Are You? test. Results are in, and...

You are Neo
You are Neo, from "The Matrix." You
display a perfect fusion of heroism and
compassion.


What Matrix Persona Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

This can't be right. Lemme take the damn test again...

Saturday, June 28, 2003

Dex Words for the Week

Dexter Lira -go ahead and click this orange link. Gotta be one of the stranger, tamer surprises life has thrown my way.

Dexter - the right hand, just the hand (hence the word dexterity), or just right as opposed to left. In heraldry, it is also the right side of the shield, or coat of arms.

Incidentally, the
left side of the shield or coat of arms is also called... the sinister.

Dexterity -skill and grace in physical movement, especially in the use of the hands; adroitness. Also,
mental skill or adroitness; cleverness.
Just about sums me up.


Next: Mi Donnas Belleza. Methinks.

Friday, June 27, 2003

Updates

As I write I'm in Los Ba?os, Laguna, at the home of a friend named Kervin, reconnecting with my old friend. I shoulda been here two days ago, but my own inertia coupled with the demands of living in two households kept me from arriving on time. I wanted time away to paint, to think, to let the girlfriend plan her study schedule without private displays of affection to distract her. I'm also here to keep an eye on my balikbayan cousin Ami, who'll be staying at the SEARCA dorm for a bit-- she'll be learning Filipino and participating in life in a nearby undisclosed (at least to me) community.

Am going to grapple tomorrow with painting ala prima-- slathering all the colors on the canvass in one go, wet-on-wet, as opposed to the traditional method: apply a layer of paint, then wait for ages until the bloody thing dries, then repeat until you are done or lose your sanity.

Will also dispense advice to a friend regarding the depiction of naked women engaged in acts best relegated to the bedroom. He wants to be what he calls a hentai-lord. Well, artistic growth is artistic growth--even if it's in the area of geekboy porn.

Am planning to post new stuff soon. Thanks for bearing with my thoughts.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Who's Afraid of God?

God is perhaps one of the thorniest topics ever to rear its holy head in what passes for intellectual discussion in these parts. He's... embarassing. Like dandruff. Or hidden gayness. Or that love doll you keep in the trunk of your car. We're often afraid that every frank and open discussion about The Almighty is going to degenerate into biblical, q'uranic, apocryphal and gnostic verses flying fast and thick across the dinner table, producing nothing but frayed nerves and a splitting headache for all concerned. After all, that is exactly what happens every time Brother Eli Soriano invites people from every other religion to partake of his religious discourses broadcast on national television.

The trouble is always that the people on any side of the table are different, and often speak from their own unique experiences. The Zennist speaks of God by shutting up and pointing at someone ("He who does not know, speaks"; "like an eye that sees, but cannot see itself"). The Scientist tries to make God fit the pattern of a rationally describable world (the phenomenology of God, God as an anthropomorphic concept). The orthodox Catholic/Protestant/Nondenominational Christian/Islamist/Jew will always speak of God as he is depicted in (pick one) scriptural revelation. The Wiccan will probably speak of a Godess, and speak of her in... I don't know what terms. Meanwhile the agnostics, the atheists, the Satanists and non-practicing ___________s are waiting in the wings...

Obviously, God is important, whether he exists as an evolutionary coping mechanism or as a real motive force in the created universe. We have to talk about him. I just don't know how.

Go Tell It on the Mountain

I would like to publicly make it known that --and it is an item of faith for me-- the Almighty had a hand in my being the only applicant in my testing batch to pass the pre-employment examinations at the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation. I took their exam at 13:30 on 19 June in the 2000rd year of our Lord at the New PAGCOR main office on 1330 Roxas Boulevard. As there are no positions open at PAGCOR (except for maybe "Table Supervisor") I will be considered for "something" in the future, should "something" open up. I may not have come away with a job, but I have come away with a better estimation of myself.

Irony aside, all credit for this beneficience of Divine Providence is herewith laid at God's door. Thank you Jesus, Good Shepherd. You answer prayers even of sheep who travel at the edges of your flock. You really do have a plan for me that I won't object to too much, unfolding at its own pace, at your bidding. Your wayward servant presents you with his most heartfelt thanks, his most unworthy doubts, his deepest fears, his wariness, and his praise.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

I took a test and this is who I most resemble--

I'm Death!
Which Member of the Endless Are You?

I thought I would come out as someone more neurotic than her so it must be a good thing.
Meteor Gardeners
A text message from Nelz that made my day this week--

"My God! Guys are sporting the Meteor Garden hair! Karamihan sa kanila, parang binagsakan ng meteor!"
Translated: "My God! Guys are sporting the Meteor Garden hair! Most of them look like they've been hit by meteors!

Lost and Found
Bumped into an old friend last night at Powerbooks; had missed him dearly, wondered about his well-being. Like me, he's an exile from college and a Fine Arts student to boot. Guess what-- he's teaching too. Who? Koreans. What? English.

Glad to have run into you, Rey. Our friends wonder how you've been. Wish we coulda raked the past over a few beers.





Friday, June 13, 2003

Dances with Piolo

Bad Piolo
He tore my favorite love-pillow to shreds and left the pillow's fiber innards strewn all over the place. He pooped in my grand aunt's dining area. Where he ain't pooping, he's taking long doggie pisses. He's playing "bite me" with the neighbor's (possibly rabid) doggies.

And he did. Bite me, that is. Again. It'll be a full moon soon, and I think I'm growing fur.

I'm no longer concerned about whether the dog is rabid. Turns out that rabies shots for doggies costs P250. It's now a simple matter of getting out the trank gun and driving the pooch to the vet without the obligatory bites and scratches.

Next time he gets me, I'm taking out Mommy's .38 and filling it with silver bullets.

Foamy at the Mouth
It, uh, miffs me that nobody in the family, who's in any position to take care of Piolo, seems to understand the responsibility involved with raising doggies. They don't seem to see the full scope of the risks they take when they turn Piolo loose and slipper-train him --spare the rod and you spoil the doggie-- when he does unsavory things.

1. The mobility of a doggie outside the house is directly proportional to his chances of getting rabid.
2. The mobility of a possibly rabid doggie outside the house is directly proportional to his getting someone else rabid.
3. To raise the possibility of rabies is to raise the possibility of time-consuming, expensive treatments and lawsuits.
4. Piolo, for all intents and purposes, has a diminished moral capacity. Slipper training cannot be applied to him as it would to a human child. The punishments meted out to him will seem to him arbitrary and confusing. Piolo simply will not know how to behave. Taken to its logical extreme, he won't stay as "Bad Piolo"-- but he'll be "Mad Piolo."

My cousin should not have brought Piolo to the house at such an early stage of Piolo's development. My family should not have accepted him. But he's here, and we're all dog lovers, so the issue is moot.

Arf, arf. Woof.
-------------------------------------------

Kuwentong Barbero� Part II

"...trust God to screw with the loudest boasts of mice and men. Because somewhere along the line something happened to me, and while it didn't involve an epiphany on the road to Damascus, it was in itself, a miracle." So what, exactly, happened?

People suddenly shut up about my hair.

How blissful, how golden that silence was. Deeper than oceans, wider and more expansive than the trackless void of outer space. I was in heaven. I was a man.

"Hey, back up a minute here. I didn't get that," says former-IASA astronaut John Crichton. I'm sure you didn't either and I'll admit, it is a stretch.

In fine, John, I've observed that people tend to make statements with their clothing, or with their choice of job, their choice of mobile phone, their choice of music, their choice of hair.

A Simplistic Example
From the Gen TXT Girl's display and avid patronage of Globe Telecom's Gen TXT paraphernalia --the snazzy celphone, the clothes, the the Gen TXT membership/discount card-- as well as her use of the snazzy catch-phrase "R U 1 of Us?" another person might infer that--

a) she's part of the Gen TXT bandwagon
b) you're not
c) there are obvious benefits to joining Gen TXT
d) Gen TXT is what defines her, or is part of what defines her
e) you should join too

If you, as someone she admires, looks up to or otherwise cares about, reject the acoutrements of Gen TXT, she may infer that--

a) you are rejecting the Gen TXT bandwagon
b) you are rejecting the things Gen TXT stands for
c) you are rejecting what defines her, and others like her
d) you are rejecting her.
e) there are obvious benefits to not being part of the Gen-TXT taxonomy
f) she must be deficient in some way, because she does not partake of life without Gen-TXT

My Hair as Statement
a) I will live my life the way I choose to
b) I have (or will have) control over my existence: "My Body, My Choice"
c) You can not box me in with your preconceived notions of what is neat and orderly
d) These ideas are important to my sense of well-being; they are part of what defines me
e) Financial and social success need not be dependent on how you look

By b!tching about my hair, the people I cared about were rejecting it and me.
" ...e) there are obvious benefits to being part of the clean-cut majority
"...f) you must be deficient in some way, because you do not partake of life without long hair, i.e. life without your values"


By their silence, they implied acceptance, even if it was of the grudging and resigned varieties. Yes, they take me seriously now. Yes, they see past appearances now. Yes, they treat me as if I were a man.

"Walaaaa! Walang Himala!"�
John Crichton asks, "Why do you attribute such importance in so little a thing?"

I answer, "Because it's all about power, John. Symbols have power, and my hair was a symbol. Infusing symbols with meaning gives these symbols power. People who use these symbols feel they're given its power. It's what people do.

People infuse a symbol with a disproportionate amount of power when they feel they don't have power enough to begin with. As a person gains more power, the need to cling to symbols of power diminishes. That has always been the case with me.


Silence Begets Discovery
Without the nagging opposition, I could take the time to objectively look at my hair, to weigh the pros and cons of keeping it long.

I'll list some of the cons--

I found out that there really is no masculine way to tuck long hair behind the ears. You need more shampoo and more bathroom time just to wash it. Bad hair days are more powerfully felt. Long hair is inconvenient on windy days. It can get in your eyes and mouth. It gets in your food. It's often between you and the telephone's earpiece. Piolo can chew on it while you sleep. Long hair can be an impediment to kissing. Bad guys have an extra limb they can grab when you try to run for safety. Some old people don't respect you. You stick out like a sore thumb. People know you grew up in the eighties.

So What Made You Decide to Cut Your Hair?

Not the cons, but another symbol.

Meteor Garden.

---------------------------------------------------------
NOTES

Kuwentong Barbero, literally: "Barbers' Tales" . Funny anecdotes, stories not to be taken seriously.

Then again, they could have just gotten tired of nagging me about it.

Famous line from a movie top-billed by Nora Aunor. Translated, keeping in mind the context: "It was all a hoax! There was no miracle!"

Thursday, June 12, 2003

"Anouncements"
Can you say that in a low, rich, thick, nasal female voice? I have some items to add to the blog before I publish the second part of Kuwentong Barbero. Think of it as public service: if you can't stand me talking about hair, and you'd rather I bore you to death with another topic, then you've got your well-deserved breather.

O Glorias Day!
To those of us who still think Philippine Independence is still worth celebrating, a happy ho ho ho to you. I feel sad at the way we've flushed the legacies of Rizal, Bonifacio, Mabini, the Lunas, et. al., down the toilet. Sayang*. There's no money in the national treasury (guess who siphoned it away), the wheels of justice still grind ever so sloooooow, the humanities are still a sad joke and the really talented people are emigrating in droves. But I'm not about to roll over. There's so much potential in this country, and I still believe we can turn things around.

Too bad there isn't an actual, physical war with the requisite physical bad guys to wrestle to the ground, as I'm sure that would galvanize and unite everyone here --keep 'em from leaving. As things stand the things we fight can't be grasped with fingers despite their size and corpulence: The Past, The System, The Garbage Problem, The Great Satan, The Real Satan, The Great Miguided Christian-Islamic Extremist Axis, PacMan.

Pahinga Muna, Papa**
My pc may be suffering from a viral infestation. I am currently trying to flush the little buggers out before they can cause more damage and cost me much in lost time and unwanted grief. See you in a few days.

-------------------------------------------------------------------

Notes:

*
"Too bad" or "Ain't that a shame."

**
Literally, "Take a Breather, Dad." Or in the local swardspeak, "Let's take a breather, Lover."

Saturday, June 07, 2003

Kuwentong Barbero Part I*

As a child, I had little control over my hair. At an appointed time, someone (usually Pop) would cut it so I looked like a Beatle. Well, that was the intent anyway. But what looked good on an Ifugao brave never did look good on me, and I felt the sting of that for years. I wasn't athletic and only had proficiencies in Science, Art, Music and English at a time when these weren't expected of students (this was the 1980s). Add my funny hair to that, and you can imagine what my grade school life was like.

Things did not improve when I hit high school. Mom and Pop identified little with the imagery of the 1960's hippie movement, and they equated longish hair with unsavory people. Meantime I was being influenced by such New Age people as Jagad Guru. I was also developing an aesthetic appreciation of long hair. I was later made a guinea-pig for some of my "in-crowd" classmates, who were determined to transform me into a socially acceptable animal, beginning with my hair. But I was slowly growing a backbone, as the image of what I wanted my hair to look like was beginning to crystalize. Sadly, it could not be achieved without a ton of hair-spray or gallons of hair gel-- neither of which, I could afford.

College at Los Ba�os found me with a new hair-related threat: ROTC. There would always be some uniformed authority figure haranguing me about the length of my hair, threatening me with all the pains of hell if I did not capitulate and get a regulation haircut. I shut them up by adopting what I call the Pepe and Pilar hairstyle. Can't imagine it? Slap your hand on the top of your head and pretend it's hair.

Issues of Control

"But why all the fuss about your hair? Didn't we all go through that?" the Muse asked me once, echoing the girlfriend's perplexed question. I remember mumbling (to the Muse) something about free will. But what I really wanted to tell either of them amounted to something along these lines:�

"You see, Dearest, it's all about control. When you have control (or feel you have control) over most aspects of your life, you don't need to be touchy about every little thing. Like clothes, or hair.

"Honey, I don't have that control-- the kind that makes you feel so comfortable about life and your place in it.

"You're beautiful, coveted, accomplished, and on your way to a career. You'll go home to your well-furnished house, to your ablutions and your warm toast. You get along with your artist mother and you're not nagged for being who you are.

"Me, I'm broke most days and I'm still in college when I shouldn't be. Despite my best efforts, nobody at the workplace takes me seriously. I feel that nobody else will accept me for my skill. I cannot see far enough into the future to properly plan for it. I feel as if I have a world to fight simply because I believe people who work outside the system can make it better. Oh, and I know the only time you will like me is when hell freezes over: I cut my hair for you and you wound up taking Mr. Long-haired-loud-band-guy for a boyfriend.

Pardon Me for My Clay Feet

"In a life devoid of control, I will take what little of it I can get. Even if it borders on the use of magic-- for that is what it is. It's cave paintings, the athlete's unwashed lucky shorts. It's ritual. It's prayer. It's morning coffee. And the only time I will relinquish my the 'long' in my hair is when I have outgrown my need for it. That's when I acquire sufficient quantities of other means of controlling what is around me: wealth, influence, goodwill, acceptance, love."


Divine Intervention

I once boasted years ago that God himself couldn't get me to have my hair cut. When admonished to shorten my hair to acceptable standards in the name of Yahweh El-Shaddai, I would give an oratory treatise on how He was too busy inspiring nondenominational fundamentalist Christians to seek out new heights in aggressive evangelism, to have to worry about the length and configuration of my hair.

But trust God to screw with the loudest boasts of mice and men. Because somewhere along the line something happened to me, and while it didn't involve an epiphany on the road to Damascus, it was in itself, a miracle.

(to be continued...)

----------------------------------------------------------------
More Dex Words for the Week

Glamour 1. Alluring beauty, or charm, associated with sex appeal. 2. Archaic meaning: "a magic spell, or enchantment"

Psoriasis 1. A noncontagious inflammatory skin disease characterized by recurring reddish patches covered with silvery scales. 2. The nemesis of anti-dandruff shampoos.


Notes

* Translation: "Barbers' Tales" -Tall and/or funny tales that you don't take too seriously.
This is of course, an amalgam of the stuff I told both the Muse and the girlfriend later, in so many halting words and clumsy gestures. They still didn't get it.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Writing on the Fly

For weeks, I've been meaning to write something more meaningful, more relevant than the drivel that passes for this fish-eye's view of my life that we're calling a blog. No luck, as I've been blocked during those same weeks.

I've served myself the usual excuses. I've been busy with "the wife," busy with "the kids," busy with the lesson plans, busy with all the newfound domesticity of life in Pasay City, where you can't get to a damn computer or scrounge up enough busfare to go to Los Ba�os and veg out.

During those sorry weeks, I've been forced to do what many columnists wind up doing when they still have no idea what to write about come crunch time. Serve up crap and write on the fly.

It's doing readers a disservice, I know. But one can't help that 99% of the stuff that gets put on reams of scratch paper is most likely voluminous junk bearing only a small quantum of Truth, a smattering of Ideas of Consequence, spead thinly throughout its leaden, porous body. The writer's job involves melting all that dross away-- biases, preconceptions, misconceptions; spelling, grammatical and stylistic errors; the inflated ego --through a gruelling process called "Revision."�

Revision is an intense and time consuming thing. You haggle with the editor-- yourself, or someone else-- and do a rewrite. Your frustration builds as you haggle again. You leave the rewritten article to percolate in the back of your brain while you go out and do something totally unrelated: maybe pray, have sex, clean house, or chug hard liquor. But you can't take too long 'cause there's always a deadline, so it's back to the word processor after a quickie (your unrelated activity).

Meanwhile your brain is melting like an overclocked, overworked Pentium with missing cooling fans and heat sinks. Then the deadline arrives and you submit your piece for publication.

That's when you realize that despite all your effort, the written piece you handed in was only a passable amalgam of Truth and Crap. You beat yourself on the head with the unwelcome epiphany, and repeat the cycle for next week's installment of column, praying that next week's revisions do not turn out the same amount of dross.

Roadblogged

RAYT --Revise As You Type

It's one thing to sit down in front of your pc and revise as you type. Depending on the general condition of your eyes, your stamina, your persistence and your typing speed, you can take all the time you need to think of ways to rehash the tired clich�s you use to develop your topic (your quantum of Truth), or invent new ones. WYSIWYG, as applied to word processing, has apparently made this method of writing and revision the mode of choice among writers in the new electronic age-- rendering the slower, more traditional use of pen and paper nearly obsolete.

It's a different thing when the computer you're typing on isn't yours, and you're pressed for time. Like, say, an Internet caf� (or whatever passes for one in this country). Time is money, and the longer you stay online, writing and thinking and revising, the harder it is on your wallet. You can always train yourself to type faster and use fewer high-falutin' words, but the message is often mangled by the hasty medum. There simply is no time to elicit suspense as you develop your topic; no time to induce feelings of doubt, incredulity, and interest from your readers; no time to build unassailable fortresses around your arguments; no time for humor; no time for that punchline, the grand irony that drives your message home.

You wind up with the usual truths and insight wrapped in half-baked crap.

PP is for Pencil Pushing

You can always lay kilometers of pencil lead across wads of paper prior to any contact between you and an online computer. It's always been a sound plan, but here is where we run into several problems.

1.If you're used to thinking, typing and revising on the PC, the pencil can seem clunky. That clunky-ness can get in the way of organizing your thoughts. You have the advantage of time for your revsions, but you do not necessarily have the advantage of money or easy access to a computer.

2. If your Muse zaps you with inspiration at odd hours of the day, you may not have any writing-grade paper on your person. While this is remedied by having lots of paper on you at all times, it can be difficult to keep tabs on all the discrete bits of paper floating about you. You're bound to lose a few sheets no matter how organized you are. And trust me, you will not like how you'll feel when you type up a draft whose ending is on a sheet of paper, safely stowed in your other pants.

Yes, you will still wind up with the usual truths wrapped in half-baked crap.

Kung Gusto, Maraming Paraan. Kung Ayaw...

Still, there are no excuses for bad writing, however you define the word, "bad." At least, there shouldn't be. And aptly enough, there is only one sure cure for blocked people, and for people who are forced to write on the fly. Can you guess?

Challenge: Your writing is incoherent, incomplete, soulless, tired, clich�d or otherwise characteristic of the copywriters and publicists of a vapid local boyband-cum-beefcake act. Your writing will probably remain that way for a long time. Ha ha ha ha.

Response: Write anyway.

Yep. I'll give you a gold star.

--------------------------------------------------------------------
Notes; Also Words for the Week

The one percent that manages to survive the crucible of revision is the stuff that wins you awards, moves people (and mountains), and gets you into someone else's pants.

� WYSWYG-- A geekspeak term, meaning What You See Is What You Get. This computer innovation allowed writers, copy editors, layout editors and publishers to actually see what was typed and laid out as it was being typed and laid out. You could even print output at any stage of production and your printout would match what you saw on the monitor. This made the act of producing a book, newspaper or magazine (and most anything else designed on a computer) a lot easier. It's taken for granted now, but it was a big thing during the Pre-Mac/Pre-Windows days when computers could only run a single application at a time, and when what you saw on those applications did not directly translate into what you saw on the printed pages.

...incidentally increasing the cases and severity of eyestrain, astigmatism and myopia, as well as back and posture problems.

Full text: "Kung gusto, maraming paraan. Kung ayaw, maraming dahilan." Filipino proverb, translates into: "Where there's a will, there's a way," but appends this with "When there's no will, there's always an excuse."