The Sunbaked King

Single Guy Dances the Waltz

The sky is overcast. The clouds are gray and threatening. The prospect of rain usually sends the normal, rational mind to reach for the nearest umbrella, or in its absence, the nearest available shelter. But you are neither normal nor rational these days. Your mind is stormy, like it usually is, so you continue your walk under the bare, pregnant sky. Its childbirth will be spectacular, and your current state of mind will be its child’s brother.

Take my hand, take a breath 
Pull me close and take one step
Keep your eyes locked to mine
And let the music be your guide

Loneliness is a state best indulged in under the rain. It makes perfect sense: the only other people you’ll see in the street are those bearing the same cross that you’re bearing. The fact that you’re so few and far apart is a perfect manifestation of your loneliness, and it suits you just fine. No one to take your hand. No one to pull you close. Only the rain’s weight to comfort you. Only the rain’s beat to be your guide.

Won’t you promise me (now won’t you promise me, that you’ll never forget)
We’ll keep dancing (to keep dancing) wherever we go next

The distance you’re trekking is one of anger and sadness and confusion and revenge. With every breath, a promise forgotten. With every step, a painful memory. Your feet are taking you to familiar roads, but your destination is blurry. But you’ll keep on walking to wherever, because you have no choice.

Take my hand, I’ll take the lead
And every turn will be safe with me
Don’t be afraid, afraid to fall
You know I’ll catch you through it all

A kilometer in, and the tears begin to fall. What has been a vague undertaking is now infinitely vaguer, sadder, lonelier. The roads are getting more and more unfamiliar. Your socks are soaked, and your shoes are caked with mud. Your entire entity is awash with wetness. At this point, safety ceases to matter. You’ll fall, and no one will catch you. You’ll get lost because no one took the lead.

It’s like catching lightning, the chances of finding someone like you
It’s one in a million, the chances of feeling the way we do
And with every step together, we just keep on getting better
So can I have this dance
Can I have this dance?

The rain pours harder, and in the sky: a roar of thunder, a bolt of lightning. In your mind, a single thought shines: what are the chances of getting hit by lightning? One in a million? One in a billion? And if you get hit without anyone there to see it, will you make a sound? Will anyone give a fuck?

These thoughts fade slowly from your mind as you walk further down the path you have chosen for yourself. The rain continues to waltz around your feet, and you continue to dance with it.


Filed under: Eros, Fiction, Yes?

Coat and Tie

The last events I wore a formal attire in were my two high school proms. During Junior Year, Papa had a coat and a pair of pants specifically tailor-made for me. I loved the entire tailoring process because 1) Papa didn’t have a coat made for my older brother during his high school prom (haha) and 2) I haven’t had any coat made for myself until then.

The coat was a blue three-buttoned piece of clothing splendor. The pants were of the same color, and its material felt like satin. When I was a junior, I paired the coat with the pants, and wore a plain long-sleeved polo shirt underneath. When I was a senior, my father told me to wear it again. No one would notice, he said. I didn’t argue because I loved that coat. And besides, I wasn’t going to wear another long-sleeved shirt and tie; I was going to don a tailor-made turtleneck. Needless to say, it paired well with the coat.

The hazy details above are the only things I remember about the physical appearance of my prom attire. I don’t remember the material of the coat, the shoes I wore, or the accessories I had on me. All of those tidbits have faded from my mind. The effect of wearing the attire, however, is another matter altogether; that, I remember vividly.

The guy who has always been branded as The Nerd finally gets a chance to step out of his role and into another person’s shoes. In another dimension, that guy will have been named Kevin Ralph, and his interests will include, not algebra or trigonometry or Noli Me Tangere, but soccer and cars and hair gel. In his world, wearing a fabulous outfit is a given. It’s as natural as the way his hair bounces with the wind as he walks. He is Mr. Prom King. He is Mr. Knockout.

This is the guy The Nerd will finally come to terms with as he looks at the mirror. A mirror, after all, is a portal of sorts. He is astonished to see himself, dressed like this, and exuding confidence like no other. But he also knows that this transformation is temporary. Like Cinderella, he will flee the ball to resume portraying the role he has set for himself throughout the years. He will return happy, yes, but this happiness is mixed with a tinge of regret…

But enough of the future. In a few moments, Kevin Ralph will step down the car and enter the hotel. And in those few precious hours, his star will shine. Brightly.

(And who’s to say this moment will never return? In a few years, the opportunity to wear a coat might present itself again. And fate will weave its magic once more, just like it did, once before.)

Filed under: Ra, Rat Race, Vanity

Hush

You’ve heard of this before, probably in the form of a reprimand from your elders: there are certain things that one should not talk about in a public setting. Especially during lunch. Debatoids like whether you should squat or sit on the toilet seat, factoids like the color of your stool, and newstasoids like the latest scientific developments on the excretory system are indeed best discussed at the proper venue and at the proper time. It’s one thing to be open-minded, and it’s another thing to be uncouth.

But it’s yet another thing to be judgmental.

For the sake of argument, consider these two questions:

1. What is ‘public setting’ in the first place? Is it public when you’re around strangers? Is it public when you’re not in an enclosed space? 
2.  Is the acceptability of a topic contingent on the open-mindedness of its audience? In other words, is any topic an acceptable one when deemed as such by those who hear it?

The lines between taboo and ‘fair talk’ have blurred more rapidly during the last ten years than in the last one hundred. As the world shrunk more and more because of modernity, cultural differences grew more and more familiar. With familiarity came acceptance, and with acceptance came respect. At the very least, the world became more tolerant.

Unfortunately, tolerance is such a flimsy word tossed around by those who really cannot tolerate; abused by those who are filled with irrational hate; and used as a convenient facade by those with double standards. Whoever said that “Familiarity breeds contempt” saw this other side of the social trend. Instead of gaining an appreciation for someone with a different mindset, a localized form of xenophobia comes into play and rejects the person entirely.

Does this sound so freakishly similar to censorship?

You should not feel the need to bend your beliefs, just solely because your mindset is an unpopular one. If you are convinced of the truthfulness of your views, you should find no reason to feel pressured to change them. Others may condemn out of spite; these should be ignored. Others may comment out of the need to enlighten; these should be considered. If, in the process of discerning, your worldview retains its logic, its validity, its appeal, then commit to it. The haters will be banging their drums soundlessly against the fortress that is your mind.

I realize that this is a massive soapbox I’m standing on, but I have to say my piece. Now I’ll step down and hush.

Filed under: Mindlifting, Them, Untamed

Avenue Q: A Guide to Living

Irreverent yet surprisingly inspirational, Avenue Q remains one of the best plays I’ve seen to date. I got introduced to its music long before I saw the play (which I saw around September last year), and immediately fell in love. Not only were the songs completely relatable, but they spoke frankly and honestly about human nature. If I were to suggest a guide to living harmoniously with other people and with yourself, the Avenue Q songs would be it. Throw away those self-help books; listening to these songs would empower you without transforming you into someone you’re not (i.e., kind and nice and nurturing and delightful– please, let us not delude ourselves).

Here are some valuable gems from the play.

On Happiness at the Misery of Others:

“Right now / you are down and out / and feeling really crappy. And when I see how sad you are / it sort of makes me… happy! Sorry Nicky, human nature / nothing I can do. It’s / schadenfreude / makin’ me feel glad that I’m not you.”

“D’ja ever clap when a waitress falls / and drops a tray of glasses? And ain’t it fun to watch figures skaters falling on their asses? Don’t you feel / all warm and cozy / watching people out in the rain? That’s schadenfreude / people taking pleasure in your pain!”

“Watching a vegetarian / being told she just ate chicken. Or watching a frat boy realize / just what he put his dick in. Being on an elevator / when somebody shouts / ‘Hold the door!’. ‘NO!’ Fuck you, lady / that’s what stairs are for!”

“Ooh, how about: straight A students getting Bs? Exes getting STDs! Waking doormen from their naps! Watching tourists reading maps! Football players getting tackled! CEOs getting shackled! Watching actors never reach the ending of their Oscar speech!”

“The world needs people like you and me / who’ve been knocked around by fate. Coz when people see us / they don’t wanna be us / and that makes them feel great! We provide a vital service / to society / you and me! Schadenfreude / making the world a better place / making the world a better place… to be.”

On College:

“I wish I could go back to college / Life was so simple back then.”

“I wish I could go back to college. In college you know who you are. You’d sit in the quad / and think, ‘Oh my God! / I am totally gonna go far!”

“How do I go back to college? I don’t know who I am anymore.”

On Racism:

“I think everyone’s a little bit racist / sometimes. Doesn’t mean we go around committing / hate crimes. Look around and you will find / no one’s really color blind. Maybe it’s a fact we all should face. Everyone makes judgments / based on race.”

“Everyone’s a little bit racist / today. So everyone’s a little bit racist / OK? Ethnic jokes may be uncouth / but you laugh because they’re based on truth. Don’t take them as personal attacks. Everyone enjoys them / so relax.”

“Everyone’s a little bit racist, alright? Alright! Bigotry has never been exclusively / white. If we all could just admit / that we are racist a little bit / even though we all know that it’s wrong. Maybe it would help us / get along.”

On Friendship and Love:

“There’s a fine, fine line / between a lover / and a friend. There’s a fine, fine line / between reality and pretend. And you never know ’til you reach the top / if it was worth the uphill climb. There’s a fine, fine line between love / and a waste of your time.”

“There’s a fine, fine line / between a fairy tale / and a lie. And there’s a fine, fine line / between ‘You’re wonderful’ and ‘Goodbye’. I guess if someone doesn’t love you back / it isn’t such a crime. But there’s a fine, fine line between love / and a waste of your time.”

 

Now tell me, doesn’t that make you feel good about yourself already?

Filed under: ...And Others, Sunshine

Tropic Thunder

BEHIND THE LINE

Tropic Thunder

Ben Stiller, Robert Downey, Jr., Jack Black

Speaking of being self-aware, Tropic Thunder premiered in theaters around three weeks ago. I watched it twice: the first time on a Friday with my officemates, and the second time the night after with my father and my bro. Now, in case you read my back-to-back movie excursion as a good omen, I’d like to throw you a curveball: one of my friends slept through the movie, and my father did the same thing, as well.

No worries, though. They were just tired.

Three weeks in and I’m still wondering how Ben Stiller did it. He co-produced, co-wrote, directed, and starred in probably one of the funniest films of 2008. And that’s not even the most fantastic part. The best part? Stiller managed not to annoy. After Zoolander, Stiller has become more and more intolerable. I don’t know if it’s the characters he plays, or it’s just him. I’m leaning towards the latter. Nevertheless, it’s a good thing he made (and wrote and directed and starred in) this movie, or else he would have gone the way of the Unfunny Carrey.

Thanks to the writing of Stiller, Justin Theroux, and Etan Cohen, Tropic Thunder is a classic example of a parody done well. It comments on the absurdity of Hollywood war movies, and borrows scenes from the good ones, but as a whole, it still portrays a distinct, coherent film. A lot of the movies attempting to spoof other movies are just that– spoofs. Nothing makes sense. What these so-called movies offer is a hodgepodge of scenes that are distortions of their originals, created under the impression that the familiarity and the hilarity are enough. Guess what? Not every scene is familiar; not every joke is hilarious.

Of course, the film is not without its faults. I thought that Matthew McConaughey’s character was extraneous and could be removed; Nick Nolte was not utilized enough; and we should have had more endorsements of Alpa Chino’s Bust-A-Nut and Booty Sweat. But I’m just nitpicking. Despite its flaws, Tropic Thunder is one hell of a funny movie, and you would be one hell of a tropic blunder [not my words, but theirs] if you haven’t gotten around to watching it yet.

P.S. By the way, you know how your friends tell you to stay in the theater until the credits are over because something awesome is going to happen after the credits roll? I suggest the same thing, only in reverse. Come early. Something awesome happens before the movie even starts.

Filed under: Cinema, The Couch Potato

Sidebar

Ever since I changed my theme, my pages got lost in the sidebar. I couldn’t move them to the top of the site because that required a revision in HTML, and WordPress doesn’t allow CSS changes in its themes unless I paid for the service. This is quite unfortunate, since the availability of pages is one of the reasons why I chose WordPress over Blogger in the first place. Losing view of those precious pages sort of defeats the choice.

Thank goodness WordPress introduced the Sticky Post. With this nifty little device, I can write a post and it would always appear on top of everything else until I take it down or replace it with something else. I’m using one right now, and yes, this sticky shall contain the links to my pages.

Click, click, click!

The Sunbaked Actuary

Boob Tube

Book Club

Resto Hop

Silver Screen

23 Things

Filed under: Helios

There Has Been Only One

Let’s admit it: most of the soaps they’re showing on local TV these days are crap. What grates me is a combination of these three things: the underwhelming CGI effects reminiscent of Hollywood sci-fi movies made in the pre-Star Wars era, the jokes that insult man’s intelligence, and the unrealistic conversations that we will never utter in this modern age and in this modern time. Gems that escape these annoyances are far and few; the last soap I truly truly loved was Mula sa Puso, and Rico Yan was still alive then. And Princess Punzalan still had a career.

When I first saw There Has Been Only One, I immediately dismissed it as a big publicity stunt that was bound to fail. The stunt? Another shot at fame for one of the lead actors, a controversial celebrity that just reappeared after a very long hiatus from showbiz. And perhaps a much-needed career boost for the lead actress, as well, whose recent soaps have not received the buzz worthy of a true TV soap princess. It was quite a sad deal from the beginning, actually. Bland actors with glutathione overdose fight over bland actress with glutathione overdose. Same old same old. I pronounced the show dead even before it took flight.

But somewhere along the way, it got fabulous.

There Has Been Only One became aware. There’s no other way to explain it. The show became aware of itself; the show embraced how the entire TV soap “industry” worked. That self-awareness was just what the writers needed to come up with the wonderful realization: “Let’s crank this full-time.” And crank it they did. They vamped up the dialogue with the most exquisite lines and the wittiest comebacks; they sent the protagonist into poverty then wealth then poverty then wealth then poverty again; and to drive home the point, they sent her into prison several times, and in court more times than that.

One of the biggest weaknesses of Philippine soaps is that they take themselves too seriously. Their goal is to manipulate people’s emotions into sympathizing with the characters, and in order to do that, they must literally flood the screen with tears and misery. There Has Been Only One refused to do that, because the show realized that the only thing it needed to do for people to keep watching the show was to keep them entertained

A shift in perspective converted one of the most boring soaps on television into one of the greatest ever. Congratulations, There Has Been Only One. Or should I say: “Congratulations, Iisa Pa Lamang?”

Filed under: The Couch Potato, TV

In Need of a Retreat

I stopped going to church when I brokered a deal with God and got the short end of the stick. Letting go was an easy decision to make; I’ve always thought that I’m forcing myself to appear at a celebration that provided me with little personal growth. Besides, there is little reason to believe that people think differently. When I look around the church, I find people who silently share the same question in my mind: “Why bother?” I see it in the way they bow down and text between their knees; I see it in the way they refuse to get front-row seats and opt to stand by the exit, instead; I see it in the children’s cries of agony.

Inspiration, much less spiritual conversion, is hard to come by when events happen in routine. Even the devotees and the believers find understanding in solace, in isolation, in the privacy of their own prayers. There is little room for personalized spiritual thinking in utterances made a thousand times. How do you find the answers for the relentless questions in your head with messages that are addressed to all of mankind? How do you expect to find your spirituality when you’re only one of many?

Those who text, those who position themselves for a convenient exit, and those children might not even think of these musings anymore. They are bound by tradition, bound by a misplaced concept of faith, and bound by the promise of a delicious lunch after in the nearby mall. The concept of personal salvation within the context of an organized mass celebration is lost on them.

The sad truth is, it might also be lost on me.

A part of me wishes that I were that guy once again. The guy who read books on the Vatican and on priesthood because he felt a certain calling during his first year in college. The same guy who, despite being grumpy at being awakened at 5 AM on weekends, found peace in 6 AM masses as a sacristan. The very same guy who once wanted to read the Bible from start to finish because it beats the best epics ever created. Yes, that guy. The guy who once truly believed. 

I don’t know what happened to that guy anymore, but I might have seen a glimpse of him again this week. It’s funny how that happens– how he appears at moments of melancholia, at times of weakness. It almost seems like a revelation of hope, an affirmation of a certain good that resides within me. I miss him, and I think he misses me, too.

Filed under: Being Blue, Ra

An Attack of Melancholia

I hate to make it sound like this is a very sad entry, because the truth is, I’m not really that sad, nor do I have good reasons to be. On the contrary, I have every reason to be happy. Papa stayed in a hotel near my place for almost four days, and, together with my little brother, we had some much-needed time to bond. We all know how accidentally funny my father can be. And after the mall strolling and the camwhoring and the all-expense-paid lunches and dinners, I still found time to go out with Jel to attend a friend’s birthday celebration last Saturday. It was a good time to meet with friends I haven’t seen for months, and to meet strangers who’ll soon become new friends. And speaking of strangers-turned-friends, the weekend ended with a satisfying dinner with MakMak and Jel, with whom conversations are always a delight. Really no reason to be melancholic, right?

But sometimes, no matter how hard you try to convince yourself that you’re happy and that you have absolutely no reason to be sad, you just are. 

You just got to read between the lines to decipher the reasons left unsaid.

Filed under: Ra

Recovery

I’ve been sick for five days now. It began on Monday night, when I started coughing. I asked the people in the office if they had any Tuseran or Robitussin Cough Liquick in hand, but they had none. So I went with Biogesic, instead. That must have been a boneheaded move, because the day after, I woke up with a fever AND a cough. Way to self-medicate.

In any case, I texted my boss and told her I couldn’t report for work that morning; I had to rest. By noontime, it was clear that I wasn’t going to get well with 6 additional hours of rest. I texted the boss once again and explained, in the sweetest sickest text “voice” possible, that I had to extend my sick leave to an entire day. I then made the mandatory promise that I’ll finish all my stuff tomorrow for her checking. With that, I pulled up my sheets, and slept. For Tuesday, I drank Bioflu and Robitussin alternately, because I didn’t know what in hell was wrong with me. Should I target the cough? Or should I target the fever?

On Wednesday, I had a fever AND a cough AND a running nose. So apparently, I missed all my targets. I was worse off that day than the day before, but I had to get up and work. (This feels eeriely like White’s entry. Haha.) I wasn’t going into the battle of Excel spreadsheets without proper medical ammunition, though, so as soon as I arrived, I went to the clinic to consult with the doctor. She then prescribed me (wait, looking for it) Decolsin and some anti-viral (anti-bacterial) drug. All this she got from my complaints of cough, fever, and running nose alone. She didn’t even take my temperature or used the stethoscope thingie. How she managed to pinpoint my medication based on my words alone is highly suspicious, but she was the doctor, and I was the actuary-to-be. I had no choice. Besides, Decolsin is close enough to Decolgen, which I’m familiar with, so I guess I’d have to trust her judgment.

I was about to damn the doctor one day, five rolls of tissue, and three “ewww, Kerwin” comments after, because it appeared as though the medicines weren’t working. But then, like an eagle ascending from the branches of the narra, like a cotton floating through the air, like a hot-air balloon on its way up, my illnesses lifted one at a time. First, the fever, on Thursday. Then the running nose on Friday night. And then, slowly but surely, the cough this Saturday morning. If yesterday night I told my friends that I was already at 75% working capacity, today I’m at 85%. If the cough totally clears, then I’m good to go once again.

Just in time for another party tonight, perhaps? 🙂

Filed under: Domesticated, Rat Race