Thursday, August 28, 2014

Where Have You Been?

Good question.

I've been keeping away from Facebook for the last couple of months because I wanted to get stuff done. This is another one of my Zero Backlog projects, which I indulge in on occasion. Long-time readers (yeah, all one of you) will remember that I'd be more or less antisocial until I'd finally crossed a batch of overdue projects off my to-do list.

I shouldn't even be blogging, but I've needed some release from the monotony of "work on project," "get stymied," "work on different project," "get annoyed by interruptions," "return to previous project," and "watch stuff on Youtube."

Digression: Yeah, I'm currently enamored of Xanadu-- which doesn't say good things about my age or musical taste. Then again, Kerry Butler is great at what she does (here, affectionately parodying Olivia Newton John), and she looks like Buffy and Darla, to boot. I'm... digging myself deeper, ain't I? Digression ends.
A good chunk of the stuff that's been coming out of late came out thanks to Zero Backlog. They've mostly been drafts that I'd started and had to abandon way back in 2012.

The point: I'm still neck-deep in Zero Backlog projects, even as new projects wind up in to-do queue. I don't know when I'll get back on Facebook, or if this compulsion to write will continue. I wish it would, though--  it's therapeutic, as long as I don't say reveal too much or say something stupid. Also: I've a lot of old drafts that need finishing.

Finally: my sister's getting married soon. Among other things I'll be doing for her: something I haven't done in a long time-- participate in a church ceremony.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Oy Vey

Off the Youtube page:

"Published on Aug 15, 2014
We spend so much time listening to the things people are saying that we rarely pay attention to the things they don't," says slam poet and teacher Clint Smith. A short, powerful piece from the heart, about finding the courage to speak up against ignorance and injustice."

Speaking Truth to ...Oops

Smith makes a case for speaking truth to power, though it's his statement that you just had to speak "your own truth" that's gotten me feeling pensive.  I wonder what would happen when you speak your truth and it is dead wrong-- no, not socially wrong, but objectively wrong. Flat Earth wrong; reiki wrong; Moon Landing Denialist wrong. 

Should one speak it anyway and risk the pain of conflict, of being corrected-- however unfairly oppressed you may feel about it-- for your ignorance?

There's a diagnostic function that obviously gets achieved. Other people get to know who's got the bad ideas, where the bad ideas wind up spreading, et cetera. Speaking your truth, even if it's a misapprehension, allows these misapprehensions to get cleared up sooner. Any damage that they are causing or might have caused ceases. The human race marches forward with fewer people losing step.

In the best of worlds, there's a dialogue that happens as these ideas get critiqued, analyzed from outside perspectives. The bad ideas get challenged, corrected, refined, or ultimately abandoned. In the best of worlds, everybody can separate their ideas from their identities and take criticism in stride. Of course, what with people being people-- overly sensitive, gullible, biased, superstitious, afraid-- that doesn't always happen.

This isn't the best of worlds.

This is why there are still people today who believe that the Earth is flat.

I want to say that even the most backward, most damaging ideas deserve a forum. Against what will you compare your most sacrosanct ideas if you're not exposed to their antitheses? How will you know that what you know isn't BS?

The assumption behind the marketplace of ideas is that good ideas--true ideas--  can withstand being challenged, and bad ideas will prove themselves defective by their very natures, as people discuss them and test them.  

Sadly, this is usually around the time advocates of bad ideas begin opening their mouths, and by that action, threaten to make me eat my words. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014


Seriously, who the heck keeps giving me plus ones on Google? Not that I'm complaining, but my audience is typically small, random, and occasionally Ukranian (and that one most likely a search-bot or a proxy site). I don't have fans anymore, considering what little fame I had was just fame by association with Elmer, Jio, Melvin and James.


It's still something of a sore spot for me that there's no mention of me making the staff box in that particular Wikipedia entry, but I'm ill-inclined to start an "edit war" over something as small and petty as... I don't know...  a mention on someone's wiki page (or my place in local comics history). It's not a "big" thing but it feels kind of unfair that it isn't acknowledged. Then again, I'd wanted out of that outfit for personal reasons, and some people were probably glad to see me go.

Digression ends.  

As I was saying: no more fans, and barely two readers, at most.

I haven't been to (or won) a poetry contest since that last Love Out Loud in '03, or '04 maybe. I tied with Third Domingo, but like all my other endeavors, that poem was only good enough to get me an honorable mention that everyone forgot.

I can count the times I actually won something with the fingers of one hand, and each of these victories is something people would consider as "minor." Landing your first low-paying gig, or getting published somewhere no one reads (because the people behind the book were really running a mindless cash-grab), being some examples. Voice acting in an award-winning animated short that doesn't forward a career in voice acting, being another.

When all your life, you've been "fourth banana, or fifth banana," you start to develop a thick skin and a studied nonchalance that covers up the sore spot in your chest that you develop from only almost-winning at anything.

And the random plus ones? They feel a lot like "actually winning," even if they really fall under "almost winning" under the harsh light of objectivity, since these don't really change anything for me, beyond making me feel just a little better. Whoever you are, mister (or miss) plus-one-er, thanks. I do appreciate it. You may ultimately be someone using a Ukranian proxy, but I'll take what good I can get.

May I always do right by you.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Dear Mork

Navel Gazing by Way of Moving Pictures

We used to have a this one teevee, a 'seventies cathode ray model, that was a fixture in the master's bedroom of the Quezon City house. When I was young, Mom and Pop would watch something-- usually the news on Channel 9, and other prime time fare.  On a particular night in '79, I had seen my first episode of Mork and Mindy, a show about an alien who was out of place on his own world (a planet of squares) and had been exiled to Earth to learn about the "crazy people" living there.

That was how I was introduced to the actor playing Mork: Robin Williams.

I no longer remember the context of that one scene. All I remember was Williams beginning sentences with "Nanu Nanu," talking a mile a minute, pulling gag after gag, seemingly out of thin air. I think my parents, like everyone else on the planet, ate up the performance. (That bit was probably my gateway into the wry, irreverent American humor that I'd tightly embrace by the time Airplane, Top Secret, and Bill Murray would show up on local movie screens circa the mid-'eighties.) It wouldn't be long before I'd see more from Williams, when he starred in Popeye alongside Shelly Duvall, in 1980, and Good Morning, Vietnam in 1987.   Dead Poets Society would hit the theaters in '89, but I didn't get to see it--and be thoroughly impressed  by it-- until the early 'nineties.

He was a distant, if comforting, figure for me.

And now he's, well... dead. And seemingly so, by suicide.

Never, Always

My brother tells me I should stop painting a situation with a very broad brush-- using words like "all," "always," and "never" because these words screw with communication. He's right: these words are great at communicating the strength of how I feel, and not why I feel strongly about what I'm talking about.  But I can't help wanting to use them in this case.  In contemplating Williams's death, I find myself falling back to using these words in questions and statements that only have partial applicability.

"Why is it always the artistic types that wind up killing themselves?"
"Is going out this way inevitable for people like WIlliams (and by extension, people like me?)"
"Are our lives always going to be marked by shambling from one personal crisis to another, clumsily working through each of these until one of them finally, successfully tests us to the breaking point? Are we never going to catch a break?"

The mind knows the rote answers to these questions: all of them are (a cautious) "No." The mind also knows that there is no such thing as certainty, and by extension, safety. And that bugs the living bejeezus out of me.

Williams was probably among the most well-adjusted people on the planet, considering his age and experience, his surviving and beating cocaine addiction and alcoholism. Me, I'm hardly stable, and I've been so scarred by my own crises that I'm actually very afraid of living. That others-- whose lives are admittedly fraught with formidable difficulty-- would dismiss my experiences as a male equivalent of "vapors" is both insulting and chilling.      

See, this is what I'm trying to do with this piece of writing, Mork: I'm trying to write myself into some form of comforting resolution. At least, a resolution that doesn't involve Super-Parent figures who will take my troubles on themselves. I may actually need one right now, but, shocker-- there's never been really good reason to think these exist.

"We are condemned to be free." 

There is no comfort. There is only Sisyphus and that stupid wheel. I will have to push it up the hill again, knowing that my hands will slip and the cursed thing will roll back down if it doesn't crush me first.

At least there's one less person contemptuously, condescendingly telling me to "Suck it up. Be a man."  Sadly, the one guy to do that here is me. Shazbot!