Thursday, February 28, 2008

Itinerant Mendicant

I had a wonderfully written post that the wondrous magic of cookies and internet security basically removed from existence.

The gist of it was that I had to refuse a young lady's request for the last of my money. She wanted to use it to get wherever she needed to go: home, presumably. Shutters slammed down on whatever it was that showed her humanity and allowed her to acknowledge mine. I remember feeling hurt by this, as I did want to help.

Of course there were valid arguments against it. I'd had enough money to only get me partially home. I'd still have to walk the rest of the way. And considering everything I'm juggling these days, I was going to need every calorie I was bound to lose by walking.

I wrote -- before the website hiccuped and removed everything-- that I felt the odious feeling of being... tested.

I wrote before that I didn't like character tests, because you walked into them blindly, not knowing the rules that someone (a woman, an authority figure, God) has often arbitrarily [and cruelly] set. These tests are usually stacked against you: they are engineered so that you'd have to defy your own nature to beat them. Ultimately you almost invariably fail.

Of course, I also thought about how God must likely be feeling: being presented with our needs day in and day out with each request being a pass-fail test of His character.

I'm surprised he hasn't tired of the lot of us.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sedate EDSA

And I'm glad about this. I got to work with very little hassle or unneeded fanfare. I was also able to swing by the EDSA Shrine and pay my respects. I often used to do this but for purposes outside of nation building. The shrine was one of the many sacred places where I spilled more than the requisite tears.

None of that today, though. Even if thoughts other than nation building still managed to preoccupy me.

I really thought traffic would be so horrible and the trains would be congested-- visions of people hanging from the rafters and such. When none of that happened it was almost a letdown. Had I known I would not have to fight the crowds, I'd have brought more stuff!

It's still so cold that the chill seeps into the fingers, toes and between the shoulder blades. Meantime the skies seem to be clearing. I'm asking "What do these portend?"

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Godfather of Geek Music

My friend Strahd introduced me to Jonathan Coulton. This man was a software engineer-turned-musician. He's also a killer lyricist. I'm kinda torn between shaking this man's hand and throttling him out of envy.His songs are wry witty observations of the human condition from a decidedly geek perspective. There is a somewhat angry yet accepting tone in his music-- Despite all that he doesn't come off as defeatist.

I'd love the chance to talk with him at length, as I've been creatively constipated for months.

I'm leaving you with a sampling of song lyrics from this guy.




Skullcrusher Mountain.

...I made this half-pony half-monkey monster to please you
But I get the feeling that you don't like it
What's with all the screaming?
You like monkeys, you like ponies
Maybe you don't like monsters so much
Maybe I used too many monkeys
Isn't it enough to know that I ruined a pony making a gift for you?

...Picture the two of us alone inside my golden submarine
While up above the waves my doomsday squad ignites the atmosphere
And all the fools who live their foolish lives may find it quite explosive
But it won't mean half as much to me if I don't have you here

You know it isn't easy living here on Skullcrusher Mountain
Maybe you could cut me just a little slack
Would it kill you to be civil?
I've been patient, I've been gracious
And this mountain is covered with wolves
Hear them howling, my hungry children
Maybe you should stay and have another drink and think about me and you

(Chorus)
I'm so into you

But I'm way too smart for you
Even my henchmen think I'm crazy
I'm not surprised that you agree
If you could find some way to be
A little bit less afraid of me
You'd see the voices that control me from inside my head
Say I shouldn't kill you yet...


The Future Soon

Last week I left a note on Laura's desk
It said I love you signed anonymous friend
Turns out she's smarter than I thought she was
She knows I wrote it, now the whole class does too
And I'm alone during couple skate
When she skates by with some guy on her arm
But I know that I'll forget the look of pity in her face
When I'm living in my solar dome on a platform in space

(Chorus)
Cause it's gonna be the future soon
And I won't always be this way
When the things that make me weak and strange get engineered away
It's gonna be the future soon
I've never seen it quite so clear
And when my heart is breaking I can close my eyes and it's already here


Thursday, February 21, 2008

PUPPIES FOR SALE

Looking for pit bull pups?

A friend of mine has
  • at least 2 males (2 months old)
  • 1 male (8 months old)
He wants to sell them to any kind soul who'll take those puppies in. The bundles of love are going at P3,500 each. My friend's got a lot of these pups and he wants to sell them before they semi-figuratively eat him out of house and home.

Here's his number: 09274045752


Pit bull puppies. Cute pit bull puppies. Show your love. Dial today.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

"Hi!"

Sometimes I think of these as life's little jokes. Someone's found me on Skype again and she-- assuming that it is a she-- is looking for some attention of the kind I'm not needing to give. I'm wondering, what, do I fit some sort of stereotype?

Nothing telling on my profile... heck there's nothing on my profile. So maybe it's just another one of the flukes that make so common an appearance in my life. To be fair, the sender's profile picture's got a really nice....


The Stairwell Is My Friend

Because I'm living a sedentary lifestyle and I'm a-hankering for physical activity. The stairwell's good if you want to build wind, to strengthen your leg muscles and put a major strain on your back.

I miss feeling my heart beat so hard I'd thought it would physically burst. Well, I don't miss it all the time but the rush of blood is a pleasant experience. When it roars in your ears like a wave you feel you're alive. Distressed, usually, (one normally gets this when being chased by predators) but alive.

After wind, we'll work on power and reflexes.Considering how far I have to go I'll have to get creative with how I work with the stairwell.

I have time.

Paying the Piper

If it isn't poetic, it's not scientific. For every action, an equal and opposite reaction. Like a poem or a movie. Like life. Pick your metaphors: everyone pays the piper, or reaps what he sows. Sometimes you defer payment or fiddle with the crops so their production cycle changes but you... ah hell, you get the picture.

I've been afraid of the repo man for so long because he always takes what's dear to you. My whole life's been defined by trying to out-think the devil when he offers me a deal. Stave off the repo man. I've actually done it a few times-- I'm a lot more like Sisyphus than I thought, and damned if I'm not proud of that. But I'm seeing several repo men soon. To settle up.

It feels good.

And it feels... free

Sunday, February 17, 2008

They're Playing Our Song

As I type the Mass in support of Rodolfo Lozada on the La Salle Greenhills campus is breaking up peacefully. The difference is that they're... they're playing Bayan Ko.

I guess this won't explain the chills running down my spine to my younger readers as I listen to it. That song's gotta be what-- twenty, thirty years old? Point is they were playing that song when the people had simply had enough of Marcos's repressive government. That bit of theme music helped rally millions of people around Cory Aquino. They were playing that song when the tanks were stopped by people lugging flowers and rosaries at Camps Crame and Aguinaldo.

Sure, Gramps, you're telling me, they're playing a song nobody really sings anymore. What's that gonna do?

In '86, dearest, it did plenty. The fact that they're playing it now means that we're that much closer to the tipping point.

Everyone please stay safe. Times of great bullsh!t are also times of great opportunity. I pray that whatever happens we don't squander ours.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The More or Less Manifesto

ZERO

In honor of love month I'll be posting stuff as I count down to the 14th. It's hokey, it's corny, but you can look at it this way: it's better than nothing when you're somewhat creatively constipated. And if in case you are the mushy type, then maybe this might be what you need.




After All It's Done To You, Why?

The long procession of women whose names have now become horribly interchangeable; the long nights wasted writing poetry or making art when making money would have brought more respect, more favors. The ugly sensation of having to adjust over and over again to a new set of arms, new smells, new colors, over a period of months, your nerve endings perpetually raw and screaming for contact. To be told you are in some fundamental way inadequate and inconvenient. To walk nights in not-space while the world swirled happily around you.

After all this, why indeed? Why do I still believe in it?

Why do I simply refuse to take comfort in the arms of the usual misanthropy and cynicism that is expected of nerds who should not have been given a shot at inconveniencing the rest of us (i.e. existence)?

I've tried to answer this in my long and boring ruminations.

Actually as I write my hands are shaking. I'm in no mood for long boring ruminations so I'll give you the short form.

Beyond the sexual dimension and the expectations that go with it, there is no functional difference between the love between mates and the love between friends. Most human interaction fosters love. Eros works his insidious magic whenever any two human beings come together, to share a task, to share a space, to share a life. He doesn't always succeed but regardless of the tools he uses -- a common goal, a shared schedule, the fact that you're siblings, sex-- he works constantly to bring people together.

I am more sure of this than I am of God. Eros is in fact my one direct non-Biblical (therefore acceptable) proof (I'm sorry I proceed from a position of doubt) that God exists and gives a ding dong diddley about his idiot creations.

All your questions of worth and why cease to matter when love takes root. Love empowers, love ennobles, even when it wounds. As many times as I've seen love fail because of someone's inner weakness, ill fortune, or bonehead decisions, I have also seen it flourish and sustain because people chose to make it work.

This is the reason I still believe in it so badly despite the bullshit it's put me through.

This is who I am, and I know of no other way to be.



Happy Valentine's everyone.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Don't Be

1


In honor of love month I'll be posting stuff as I count down to the 14th. It's hokey, it's corny, but you can look at it this way: it's better than nothing when you're somewhat creatively constipated. And if in case you are the mushy type, then maybe this might be what you need.

Or not.


I'll dispense with the metaphors as much as I can, just for today.

Don't Be My Friend

Because I can only count my normal friends with my fingers. If you want a simple, happy life uncomplicated by the burden of complex people then you seriously don't want to join my co-fraternity of misfits who include--

1. someone who has to put on an evil face over her pretty one, to make all the unpopular decisions, to take the brunt of everyone else's displeasure to shield her corporate bosses. She lives with the loss of friends who may never truly understand her. As much as she may want to be free to give her heart to someone, she is as married to her company as much as anyone else can be married to a partner.

2. someone who always has to take the moral high ground. You'd think he was the damned Pope the way he pontificates from his perch. But there's more to him than his near-unbending Chinese rigidity. I've seen his compassion. Part of his rigor comes from his desire to make the world a better place.

3. someone who takes principle so seriously that she'll puts too much stock in her word. It can't be broken, even under circumstances that scream "this is crazy." Even if her heart, the very core of her, screams against it. (No, dearest, this is not you).

4. someone who routinely stabs men (metaphorically) in the chest, the likely latest one being me. It's a scorpion's nature to sting, but it's testament to how much she can care about another person that she took so long to do it. I've seen that caring side of her, and I've always believed in it. Even when I called her an idiot, and even when everyone else was calling me an idiot for loving her.

5. someone who partially equates self esteem with the bedchamber. I can't pretend to be able to fully help her with this dysfunction-- I don't have the training and I certainly cannot be the surrogate she needs. But I've seen her at her strongest-- self possessed, capable, loving, earning more in a day than I could in a month's honest work.

6. a father who's had to plumb the depths of sleaze to feed and clothe his kids. An artist/inventor who's had to apply his genius to morally problematic causes. Love takes people on strange pathays and his has been stranger than most.

Conventional wisdom dictates that I chuck them all, because they can supposedly drag me down, despite the things within them that I find worth loving, redeeming staying around for. I've said this before: we are all such broken toys.

You're asking why I'm airing this and every other bit of dirty linen hanging on clotheslines in my head, knowing as I do that it can and probably will sabotage any chance of our being friends (or of any Human Resources Department looking at me favorably, hahaa!). You see, I know humans like the back of my hand. I'm hoping that in your case I'm reading you wrong.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Dark Places

2


In honor of love month I'll be posting stuff as I count down to the 14th. It's hokey, it's corny, but you can look at it this way: it's better than nothing when you're somewhat creatively constipated. And if in case you are the mushy type, then maybe this might be what you need.

The stuff will be mostly mine. If the piece isn't mine I'll say so. If you're going to copy and paste this at least please tell people I made it.


The places that I walk are often the same places everyone else inhabits. It's just that I seem to slip into a kind of parallel dimension where I can see everyone as they go about their business-- couples holding hands and contemplating each other, friends and officemates cheerfully making the first of their eager legs home. I could stand haloed in moonlight, or bathed in the artificial yellow of the city and they would never notice, never see me. That is, until I broke the spell, announced myself-- and then the party would be over for someone.

In the old days that would have been a welcome thing. Some of my talents lie somewhat in stealth, and there was a period in my life where I did make shadowing people and casing places a quasi-hobby. No, I had no assassin-wannabe aspirations but it was cool to play at being Batman, or eponymously, The Shadow.

None of that today, though.

Whenever I find myself slipping into that twilight subspace It's often against my will. I want to be seen, to be noticed, to interact. But I know humans like I know the back of my hand and the survival instinct takes over. The gates open, and I'm in, guts turned inside out and knees quivering in the bargain.

I become an unwilling member of the storied denizens of the night. I cruise with vampires and ghostly women dressed in white. Amorphous incorporeal things harrass me.

I follow people who swim in their spaces like so many happy fish. In my not-space I am hyper-aware of every nuance, every gesture. The little details more than anything really. Sense perception is diminished so that every other sense compensates for the loss of fidelity. From my not-space I observe in slow motion the fall of a woman's hair as she tosses her head from side to side, walking with her peculiar somewhat bow-legged gait. I observe a friendly kiss goodbye between her and a friend. A man and a woman: I notice the body language that atempts to hide the closeness that is already there, patent, for everyone with eyes, to gawk at.

From my not-space I know. And the knowledge brings bitter consolation.

++

I don't own this space. I only found it. The way was open to me when my heart first broke long ago.

++

I often find myself sharing it with vagrants, beggars, prostitutes and children selling flowers in the dead of the night. I know this because they can see me, as lost and sometimes as lonely as the rest of them. They reach out to me with arms covered in grime or sores, a pleading (or sometimes predatory) look in their eyes.

Comfort me. Need me. Feed me. Love me.

They take me back to realspace when they do this, as I suddenly have the power to banish them to not-space with their humanity savaged by just so much. It's hard, to acknowledge them as human beings and tell them I can't help them.

In the end we vanish into our not-space, becoming observers of a world that would rather forget us.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Somebody get me this book. Please.

I found it on Amazon.

On the author's website:

"DON'T LET THE PRESIDENT HAVE THE LAST LAUGH! Danielle Crittenden's hilarious collection of imaginary online correspondence between the POTUS and his "buddy list" is now available in a dead tree edition by Simon Spotlight Entertainment. You'll find THE PRESIDENT'S SECRET IMs at Amazon and bookstores across the country."


Online, George "Dubya" is kickass43. He spends a lot of time on his computer talking everything from US foreign policy to his situation at home with the world's bigshots. Including ben16 (Pope Benedict XVI) and sxybritguy10 (Tony Blair). Hilarious fun.

Bill Clinton, true to form, is ladeezman42.


Saturday, February 09, 2008

Ecce Homo

5

In honor of love month I'll be posting stuff as I count down to the 14th. It's hokey, it's corny, but you can look at it this way: it's better than nothing when you're somewhat creatively constipated. And if in case you are the mushy type, then maybe this might be what you need.

If you're going to copy and paste this at least please tell people I wrote it.




Ecce Homo

If you proceed from a position of faith, then "knowing your own worth" is a good enough basis of a healthy self esteem. The problem arises when you attempt to be totally objective about what you are worth. You must proceed from a position of distrust. You cannot trust your own assessment of worth until--

a) there is a standard to measure it against; and
b) you meet, or better yet, surpass those standards.

Sometimes I don't know what's worse.

The first makes you delusional; complacent, if serene, until you meet someone or something better, faster, stronger than you. Especially something that threatens to make you obsolete.

The second will never let you sleep.You are constantly and ruthlessly examining yourself for flaws and consistently finding them. There must be no question about your place in the Universe, your utility to your society and fellow man. Else, why do you even exist?

Quo Vadis, Veritas?

In a world where everyone can theoretically do what you do, think what you think, earn what you earn or more-- in a world where you are, in short, replaceable as employee, father, husband, lover, son-- in a world like that you have no real place.

God himself does not provide comfort within his abstract love of humanity, at least initially-- if he loves everyone equally then there is absolutely no difference between you and the depraved rapist who should be given the chair. You can't even trust the healing afforded by an abiding faith in the Christ-- how can you really truly tell if it's not another delusion? Another lie, another social palliative applied like band-aid to distract you from attempting to truly answer the questions of "What is my worth? Why am I here?"

The relentless search for the truth of your worth demands that you do not accept palliatives.

Those who take this second path path will most likely come to the same initial conclusions I have. That there is no meaning; that you exist to die; that your worth is a transient thing, dependent solely on chance and whether or not you picked the right skills and credentials and connections and bible study groups in your formative years.

Ecce Eros, Veritas; Ecce Homo

Absurdly enough, it's simple, naked love that answers the ontological and teleological questions of worth and meaning, by rendering those questions meaningless. Not the abstract love of a distant Watchmaker who "loves everyone equally." It's the love a Creator expresses personally through human agents-- friends, parents, someone you can share a well-lit bench with. Ridiculous as it sounds, the human psyche is apparently built that way.

I've thus come to accept that some palliatives are necessary if you still want to be a part of the human race. Acting out of faith is after all better, less stressful, than acting out of doubt.

I know what I'm worth. But I'll sleep better if key people can bring themselves to remember it.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Requiem for Porky

I'll say I never saw it coming. Though considering how my government's been jumping at every sound, I should have. I really feel sorry for him. I saw the news footage and ex House Speaker and former GMA Ally Jose de Venecia looks like-- dare I say it? --crap.

But I guess what goes around comes around. Jose de Venecia was the consummate political wheeler and dealer. The baron of brokers and the king of compromise. And I will admit that I hated this guy for his continuing efforts to reanimate the rotting corpse of charter change long after ex-President Fidel Ramos had given it up for, well, dead. There were other reasons that involved keeping Arroyo super-glued to the presidential chair long after she should have been impeached.

Now that he's been fired on account of his son's feud with the First Gentleman, he's opened up the metaphorical bathroom to let the stink out, calling for a "moral revolution." Conrado de Quiros is right when he says that de Venecia is the last person you'd expect such calls from; that if de Venecia did something right, it's that he just proved how little the current administration values loyalty and the people it claims to serve.

Rina Jimenez David writes that we may see in the fall of the wheeler-n'-dealer, the possible rise of a statesman. My knee-jerk reaction is to be skeptical-- I know humans enough that if you give them the opportunity to do something stupid, enough of them will. You can yell your head off about how they're running the planet or their relationships into the ground, and all they'll see is a locust-lunching wild man man clad in camel hair (you) with nothing to offer them but sound and drama.

But the Universe is full of surprises and just when you think something's graven in stone, something shifts... So maybe there's redemption for Porky yet.

The clouds massing outside the Fandom Cafe where I'm writing this now, the "defrocking" of Porky himself and the resurrection of the ZTE issue -- these I take as proof that whatever it is that's keeping this magic-realist country interesting is at it again.

I'm smelling a change in the air. I'm praying all of us can meet it with courage, equanimity, resilience, resourcefulness, and-- as this is Kafkaed after all--

humor.



Sunday, February 03, 2008

De.motion

Well I'm back to being a commuter and it feels... different. I'm going to miss the mobility afforded by a motor vehicle. It made a lot of things easier and more complicated at the same time. Of course I know this situation is only temporary. As soon as new money comes in and I'm clear of a few more finacial obligations I'm getting my license renewed. There will be more money to use for making the lives of the people I care about a little easier. Aaaaaand I'm gonna get my blue RAV 4 yet.

Friday, February 01, 2008

I am Salmon

And I used to be such a tuna guy. Wait, I still am.

There's something more appealing to me about the color, texture, consistency of maguro (tuna) sashimi than the salmon variety. The best tuna and salmon sashimi melt in your mouth, releasing unique flavors ably complemented by the right amount of wasabi and soy sauce. The difference is that--

a) Salmon doesn't have tuna's somewhat iron-bloody aftertaste (the taste of salmon sashimi can be described as somewhat sweet, creamy); and
b) Salmon melts in the mouth better

Given a choice, I'd always go for tuna, even if only for reasons of price and availability. Tuna can pretty much be found swimming our oceans without making a salmon's trips to fresh water streams for purposes of spawning. And cheap tuna can be just that-- cheap. Salmon is more prized, therefore harder to find or get to, and therefore more expensive.

But you're asking Why am I Salmon? Reasons exist beyond a pun on the movie I am Sam (good movie starring Sean Penn, do check it out. Incidentally the pun was also a conscious choice).

As I'm a creature of metaphor, nuance, meme and pop culture references, you can be sure that this post is not simply about fish.

A salmon's life is apparently more complex than his tuna counterpart: he's born in a fresh water river or stream, migrates to a big ocean and then feels an irresistible desire to return to the stream of his birth.

I am Sam. And I am Salmon.

Driving


My license expires today, and it's a little bit of a drag that I can't finance its renewal right now. My funds are tied to other things at this point. At least, with it as an enabler, I got to do such swell stuff with other people's cars over the last year. I became...




  1. a family driver, hauling my mom and related cargo to and from different points of southern Luzon; I took my first ex to the wake of a friend's mother on this same day last year.
  2. an apprentice race driver, using the South Super Highway as training for high speed night driving under the tutelage of one of my friends;
  3. a runner/roadie, moving stuff --and musical instruments-- all over the Metro;
  4. a one man multimedia studio on wheels whose motto just happened to be "We Deliver";
  5. a mechanic. I think this goes without saying when you handle vehicles: you need to know a little bit about what goes where and how "healthy" machines vibrate;
  6. a traffic accident statistic (almost)-- as when certain events screwed with my inner state so much that I almost didn't notice I was doing over 90 on narrow city streets. Incidentally I discovered that while you can be seized and rattled and tossed about by an emotional paroxysm (like an angry crying jag) while you're behind the wheel, there is a somewhat detached part of your psyche that can still keep its senses trained on the road. I kid you not, it's true. Not that I want to try that again.
That said, I am very thankful to my sometimes-corrupt government for letting me have a card that gave me legal carte blanche to do all that. In times when I was lonely and ABBA-deprived the driving experience helped-- the car I'm using doesn't have any kind of music player.

My license expires today. And I am thankful for everything that implies. I am hoping some key people still remember why.