The Sunbaked King

Hope Springs Eternal

I took a look at the window and saw that you were making your way inside the room. I sighed. This was no time for surprises of any kind. “What are you doing here? I’m tired.”

“I know, I know. But I thought it would be nice to bring you something while you worked.” I couldn’t place the expression on your face. A mischievous giddiness? Whatever it was you were doing, it wasn’t working. I was at the receiving end of F’s short patience, and if he couldn’t be pleased, I sure couldn’t be, either.

“I don’t think I can be disturbed right now,” I said, returning to my papers. “You just would have to wait.” I didn’t want you to wait– in fact, I wanted you to come so badly, but I couldn’t show it. I was still under F’s jurisdiction. I was still under F’s control.

Thank God you ignored me, which was pretty much what I expected from you. As I made my way through the piles of paperwork, a soft sound emanated beside me. It was a melody that called out memories that were not mine, but they were beautiful memories nonetheless. Each note pulled a part of me from myself, soothed the aches beneath my feet, and brought me to a place of peace and serenity– a vision of green grass, tall oak trees, and a carousel.

When I opened my eyes, I knew that F was over. You held my hand and confirmed it. The music box you brought with you was just icing on a very sweet cake.

“You liked it?” you asked, knowing the reply before it came.

“Yes.”

You squeezed my hand tighter. “Then you can have it.”

* * * * *

Not all stories have happy endings, even those lulled into sweetness by the melodies of a wonderful music box. Not even the kind run by brightly colored horses on an intricate carousel. While the beautiful rhythm lives on, you know that not everything can be painted on a canvas of sound.

* * * * *

“I’m sorry.”

I knew you were sincere. I knew that you had no control over the situation. But I had to react the way I did. “I wish you never came with that music box. You just meant to make me vulnerable so that you could hurt me.”

You looked me in the eyes and asked me a question I could not answer: “Do you really mean that?”

Before I even knew what I was doing, I had to escape the doubt that ballooned ever so dangerously in my mind. I grabbed the music box and angrily hurled it against the wall. It was a fragile little thing, that carousel. It had no chance of surviving the blow. With a meek little ting!, the horses revolved around the center one last time before it surrendered itself to the silence.

There was only one word for what I felt when it hit me: horror.

“Look what you made me do! Look what you made me do!” I ran across the room to pick up the pieces, but then you stopped me. You held me in my place. I trembled underneath your touch, and the heavy sobs pushed my body helplessly against yours.

“There is nothing we can do now but move on. It was my fault, but it also wasn’t. We’re almost done, but we’re not yet done. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

I didn’t. But you continued speaking like I did. “I’ll be leaving you, but not like this, not with a heavy heart. I promise you that.”

I kept myself steady and looked at you with my bloodshot eyes. “You can’t promise anything.”

* * * * *

Except sometimes, promises are happy surprises.

* * * * *

I stood at the office one night, looking out the vast glass windows that flanked my desk. The city lights were scintillating like the stars; the lamp posts like little supernovas. Once upon a time I walked away from this place with a certain fear and sadness. But right now, all I felt was hope.

When you appeared by the door, I was not surprised. When you took out your violin and began to play, I smiled. You’d come to say goodbye.

* * * * *

– My life in March, depicted in snippets of made-up sceneries and fictitious conversations.

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Filed under: Fiction, Yes?

Ha Ha Hee Hee Ha Ha Ho

Love me, hate me, say what you want about me.

– Britney Spears, If You Seek Amy

Got this idea from one of MakMak’s posts. The idea here is simple: listed below are ten life events, 9 of which are very, very real. The other one? A blatant lie, an outrageous fabrication. The guessing game is only half the fun; reading through the entries should already take you midway. Needless to say, I enjoyed this exercise immensely.

(The events are listed in chronological order.)

Episode 1 : Jeffrey. We once had neighbors in Zamboanga that were certified crooks and troublemakers. The sister once attempted to steal orchids from our garden; Mama saw her and grabbed her by the hair before she could get away. The brother, a kid named Jeffrey, had a punching bout with me. I lost that particular round because I went home crying. Sometime during the immediate future, I found myself faced with a wonderful opportunity: we were playing darts. With one swift stroke, I deliberately threw the dart at him, and it landed squarely on his disease-infected leg. I fake-apologized and got all fake-concerned, but deep inside, my inner devil was cheering.

Episode 2 : Promil Kid. I graduated Valedictorian soon after that. (Not that the Jeffrey incident had anything to do with it.) I was in Kindergarten then. My parents had to repeatedly stand up to pin my ribbons because there were so goddamn many of them. I was invited to be accelerated to Grade 1 sometime before that, though, but my parents refused, thinking that I wouldn’t be able to handle it. Years later, they would be faced with the same decision with my younger brother, and they agreed this time around. I wonder why they changed gears?

Episode 3 : Showbiz. We moved from Zamboanga to Davao around the early 90’s. During this time, Eat Bulaga ruled the boob tube. Shows like Little Miss Philippines and That’s My Boy catered to the kids, and they became so popular that they started holding auditions nationwide. I joined the Davao auditions of That’s My Boy. Contrary to rumors during college, I didn’t win (I came in 3rd), and I never made it to the finals in Manila. However, months later, we received an invitation from a popular local canned goods company to do a commercial. My parents didn’t allow it because we were new in town, and had yet to adjust. (Damn.)

Episode 4 : Prodigal Son. I wasn’t what you’d call an ideal son. I was pretty much a disappointment to my parents when I was younger (as parents, they would definitely deny that, haha). For instance, I squandered my yearbook money by spending it on Playstation games with my friends (X-Men and Sailor Moon were all the rage). I tried to replenish it by getting some money from our sari-sari store, but my Uncle found me out and blabbed me to my parents. My father, a recent Couples for Christ convert, did not do the usual kneel-on-mongo-seeds or belt-to-ass-spanking punishments of old, but made me place my hand on the Bible, and made me swear that I would never do it again.

Episode 5 : Camp Rock. In exchange for a brand new PC (Windows 95, 4 gigs of hard drive memory, yeah!), my father “asked” if I could join the Youth for Christ camp during the summer break. As a recently converted good child myself, and feeling a sense of immense gratitude for the computer, I agreed. That did not mean that I liked the idea. So for a few days, I had to meet with other kids of other CFC members, and do the religious thing with them. However, my silence during the entire thing got me a reputation I thought I’d never have (hence the silence): I was called “Stranger” and “Bato“, and not necessarily behind my back.

Episode 6 : Pink Sacristan. In continuation of my path to total reverence, I served as a sacristan in the Holy Spirit Adoration Convent near our house. The Convent was home to the Pink Sisters, a group of nuns whose faces we normally never see because they had our backs to us during Mass. But I found out (to my extreme humiliation), that nuns are still human, after all. Once, during an early morning mass, I left the priest’s side too early. The nuns looked up and realized what I had done, and they began to giggle. Silently and reverently, of course. But not one iota less embarrassing.

Episode 7 : Cruel Intentions. I had a psycho phase in high school, which pretty much rendered my religious conversion moot. During this time, I wondered how it would feel shooting people using a sniper (inspired by Stephen King’s character Todd Bowden in Apt Pupil); how it would feel making cocaine and getting tweaked (inspired by Josh Hartnett‘s role in The Faculty); and how it would feel just simply being deliciously evil (inspired by Sebastian Valmont, Cruel Intentions). I got so scared of the book I gave it away; got so into Josh’s character that I researched on homemade cocaine; and got so into Sebastian’s persona that I joined a school play with the same role. Talk about immersion.

Episode 8 : Lovestruck. Everything changed when Senior Year came. In Senior Year, everything is all about love. I once wrote a love letter to a friend that contained the cheesiest lines. The first stanza went this way: There is no Britney Spears / When a girl like you appears / Forget Christina Ricci / When you’re in front of me. Cheezay! I went on to write an essay about the same girl. I kept it to myself. Papa, however, snoopy little dad that he is, found the letter and sent it to Inquirer as an entry for the Youngblood column. We didn’t hear from them.

Episode 9: Lust, Caution. I flirted around by calling/texting my crushes in their cellphones, even if we weren’t close. I had a weekly Top Ten ranking of said crushes which I updated religiously. The criteria? Looks, Personality, Kerwin Bias, and Friend Factor. The Friend Factor is a consolidated ranking my closest friends gave to the people in the list. I think I allotted too much of my time to this nonsensical but exciting exercise that my grades dove alarmingly. Thank goodness graduation came and I did not have to suffer any more academic free fall.

Episode 10: Close Encounters of the First Kind. Years later, I would be going to a strip club for a bachelor’s party, and this is going to be the first time I’m going to see an aquarium full of women, ready to be chosen with the flick of a finger or a glance. This is also the first time I’m going to see a woman dancing around a pole in a see-through mesh shirt. Finally, this is also the first time I’m going to encounter, up close and personal, the female genitalia. Dun dun dun!

Filed under: ...And Others, Domesticated, Fiction, Yes?, Ra, Testimonial, Untamed

Half-Empty

I’m in Starbucks in Rockwell right now, shirking (TM Extreme Usage Diana). After a sumptuous chicken parmegiana dinner in Grams, I immediately headed out to this coffeehouse next door to study, but as usual, the drive isn’t there. Other times I would have chalked it to the fact that I’m sleepy, but I already slept for more than 10 hours today. Hmmm… maybe I overslept. That’s a convenient excuse.

But that’s not why I’m blogging. I’m writing because I’ve noticed something peculiar about Starbucks tonight. It’s such an oddity that I have to check and double-check my glasses to make sure that I’m seeing what I’m seeing. Something must be wrong with them. This couldn’t be happening, not in this Starbucks of all places. But I couldn’t deny it. It is true. It is real.

Starbucks is almost empty on a Saturday evening.

Aside from a few spattering of humanoids here and there, the place pretty much feels like a lounge that time forgot. Add to that the yellow lights and the jazz music, and one would expect to see a lonely guy sitting at a corner, drinking a beer in peace. But that’s actually fitting: this is a place for lonely hearts. Take that statement as you will. I will not react.

In exactly 31 minutes, lights will go out for Earth Hour. Maybe I will scream. That should take out the monotony.

Filed under: Ra

What’s Hot and What’s Not: American Idol Top 10

Last week, Alexis got booted out to the shock of those who knew Scott MacIntyre should have gone home. Which is probably just me. But anyway, “fixed top four” rumors can no longer be true, which is probably a relief. Let’s get it on!

Top 10
Motown Night

10 Scott MacIntyre. You Can’t Hurry Love. Vocals: 10th + Appeal: 5th + Bias: 10th = 43.50%. Peak Position: 10th. Average Ranking: 11.

Eyes.

9 Megan Joy Corkrey. For Once In My Life. Vocals: 9th + Appeal: 10th + Bias: 4th = 61.50%. Peak Position: 5th. Average Ranking: 8.33.

Oh, Megan Joy Corkrey. Last week was a fluke, after all. But I don’t hate you as much now. While we’re on good terms, I think this is the best time for us to part ways. (And I have to say, barring the tattoo, you are really pretty.)

8 Anoop Desai. Ooh Baby Baby. Vocals: 8th + Appeal: 5th + Bias: 5th = 66.75%. Peak Position: 2nd. Average Ranking: 6.33.

When I first read that Anoop would be singing Ooh Baby Baby, the first thought that entered my head: OOH! BRITNEY! Imagine my disappointment. It just fueled my dislike of Motown night more. (Sneaky little thing dangling that song title in my mind…) As for Anoop? I think he would have kept me awake if he sang Britney’s song. It was ONE BIG BORE.

7 Lil Rounds. Heatwave. Vocals: 7th + Appeal: 8th + Bias: 8th = 68.75%. Peak Position: 5th. Average Ranking: 7.

In Season 2, Kimberly Locke sang this during the Top 12 performances, and she hit the seal. She didn’t get eliminated, but instead went all the way to Top 3, where she was beaten by Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard. But that night was a wake-up call for her; I don’t think she hit bottom 2 any time after that. I think that the same thing might happen with Lil. Interesting thing: for the first time in this entire season, I found myself invested a little– A LITTLE– in her.

6 Michael Sarver. Ain’t Too Proud To Beg. Vocals: 6th + Appeal: 9th + Bias: 6th = 69.75%. Peak Position: 6th. Average Ranking: 6.33.

Is it just me, or is Michael Sarver getting younger? Even his voice in his interviews sounds like he’s in teens. Maybe it’s just me. In any case, I thought his vocals were really strong, but he just lacked the presence and the power to back it up. I guess it’s getting obvious that I find Michael endearing; I wouldn’t be sad if he left, but that’s one hell of a sincere guy.

5 Matt Giraud. Let’s Get It On. Vocals: 4th + Appeal: 5th + Bias: 6th = 73.75%. Peak Position: 3rd. Average Ranking: 5.

Maybe I’m just sleepy, but I’ll try to do this objectively: great shifts in pitch, the falsetto is something that he can pull off successfully, and he has pipes that rank at the upper half of the bunch. Whew. Now let my sleepy self talk: Motown songs are a bore, and I’m faulting Matt for not making it more interesting.

4 Allison Iraheta. Papa Was A Rolling Stone. Vocals: 4th + Appeal: 4th + Bias: 9th = 74.25%. Peak Position: 4th. Average Ranking: 8.

Perhaps her best performance to date. But after Adam’s performance, everyone else is in deep shit.

3 Danny Gokey. Get Ready. Vocals: 3rd + Appeal: 3rd + Bias: 3rd = 80.50%. Peak Position: 1st. Average Ranking: 2.67.

After Adam’s performance, nothing can be better. Not even Danny.

2 Kris Allen. How Sweet It Is. Vocals: 2nd + Appeal: 2nd + Bias: 2nd = 83.50%. Peak Position: 1st. Average Ranking: 2.33.

Ever since Oz sang this in the original American Pie movie, I have fallen in love with the song’s cutesy melody and beat. The song’s simplicity is its gift; there’s nothing you can do to screw it up. Kris didn’t screw it up–in fact he delivered– but in some small insignificant irrelevant way, I thought that the song choice wasn’t really that challenging to begin with. It’s like Kris knew it was a cutesy song, and for him to sing it– all the fans would swoon.

1 Adam Lambert. Tracks of My Tears. Vocals: 1st + Appeal: 1st + Bias: 1st = 90.50%. Peak Position: 1st. Average Ranking: 3.

That was perfection. No Egyptian rhythms, no weirdness, just plain old good singing. And from Adam, a moment of tenderness. Love. There is only love. And there is no doubt now who I want to win this entire thing. I’m sure Adam the rocker diva will emerge again next week, but this performance will always serve as a reminder that he once sang beautifully– without makeup, without nail polish, without facade– and that he can do so again.

adam_lambert

Picture taken from americanidol.com.

Adam, FTW! Scott, for the boot!

Filed under: The Couch Potato, TV

Honesty

I don’t want to apologize for things that I shouldn’t be apologetic about. Not anymore.

I don’t want to apologize for being able to afford the things that I buy. In the same manner, I don’t want to have to explain my purchases to others, just because they think it’s extravagant of me to buy this, when I could have bought that. Well, I don’t want that. I want this. The only people who are entitled to comment on my spending are those who are directly affected by it, and those who are truly concerned. I worked hard to earn that money, and I am free to do with it as I please.

I don’t want to apologize for not displaying my religious zeal. I don’t want people shoving their religiosity in my face, either. Fine, I get it, you go to church and I don’t. That doesn’t mean you’re immediately going to heaven, and that doesn’t mean I’m immediately going to hell. Was it Daniel or Elijah who prayed in private? If there’s a need for you to parade your good heart and kind soul in order to feel good about yourself, to make the religious thing worth it, then you’re not doing a damn good job yourself.

I don’t want to apologize for talking like I make sense. I don’t want to engage in conversations where I have to stoop down and look dumb so that others can feel good about themselves. I want to discuss things at my level. If you out-talk me, if you have more outstanding ideas than I do, if you explain your points more clearly, then I will positively adore you. I will try my best to drive my points across, but kudos for being brilliant.

I don’t want to apologize for being good at what I do. I don’t want to feel embarrassed at the praises which come my way, especially if I think I deserve them. I’m being an ass if I accept compliments that are not mine to have, but I believe that I’m being more of an ass by blowing off those that are clearly attributable to me. Humility is one thing, and has a rightful place in the overall development of a successful person, but false modesty? That will just get your butt kicked every time.

I don’t want to apologize for wanting to live a life that is mine. Yes, that is vague on so many different levels, and sounds very Memoirs of a Geisha to boot, but that’s the only way I can word it. I don’t want to be trapped by society’s perception on who I should be and how I should behave. I don’t want to be trapped by the preconceived notions of others. I don’t want to be trapped into a place where I could do nothing but act out a role that I did not want to portray in the first place. Let. Me. Be.

If the statements I wrote above rang false, I apologize. If the statements I wrote above grossly exaggerate, I apologize. But you know what? I won’t apologize for actually thinking that they’re not false, that they’re not exaggerated.

This is a trap I have to escape out of. This is a self I need to renew. The time for a new Kerwin is now.

Filed under: Ra, Them, Untamed, Vanity

Honors’ Class

When I was in 4th grade, I got accepted into the Honors’ Class. Did I feel honored? Not on your life. It was one of the most traumatic years of my childhood, and perhaps my entire life. I got asked to strip in front of the class by a teacher (jokingly, but it was a menacing threat nonetheless), was accused of theft, and received my first D (which was my fault, but still). You know something’s wrong with your 4th grade experience when your initial reaction upon seeing your name as one of the qualified students for 5th grade Honors’ Class is to cry in sadness and regret.

During the summer of 3rd year high school, I got accepted into the Ateneo’s summer program, the AJSS. Students from all over the Philippines get together for six weeks and act like they’re college Ateneans. It was a fantastic way to meet people, and was perhaps one of the richest and most rewarding summers I’ve ever had. Brilliant people are always fun to be with. However, the day before I was due to return back to Davao, I got the most disturbing news: a storm was brewing back home. My best friend on the other line reassured me by saying that everything was going to be fine, I just needed to explain my point-of-view. Everything did turn out fine, but not before the misery of being painted as a snobbish asshole. Which I was. Which I probably am.

A few weeks ago, I got hired by one of my most “coveted” companies. I was no stranger to the fact that the people I’ll be working with were going to be brilliant; some of them I’ve worked with in my previous company. I just didn’t know how brilliant exactly. And then I learned this funny little factoid: all of them were summa cum laudes of one Math course or some other. Four from the UP system and one from La Salle. Wow. I was the only non-Latin-honor-bearing person there. I’m secure enough about my own intelligence not to be affected, but what really got me thinking was this: what is the sacrifice this time around?

It just wouldn’t be complete without it.

Filed under: Rat Race

Single Guy Watches the Night Sky

March 20, 2009
10:12 PM

There’s something fascinating about the top floor of a high-rise building. The building itself defines the skyline, cuts the peaceful horizon, and distinguishes itself among all the other surrounding structures. Through the giant imposing glass windows you see the entire city beneath your feet. The lights dazzle like little stars; the lampposts like little fireflies.

You stand here now, 12 minutes past the hour of ten, hands hooked into your pockets. Something compels you to look out the window and gaze at the beautiful sight. You can feel that something grand is about to happen; your fingertips are positively tingling with excitement. For a moment, the scenery is serenely static, and nothing disturbs the lights, the lampposts, and the lovely Northern sky.

And then it happens. A flash of light appears as a tiny dot in one portion of the heavens, and then streaks across the nightscape with an eerie sense of intent and determination. Your heart skips a beat; your mind is full of awe. Remembering the stories of shooting stars you’ve had as a child, you close your eyes and make a wish. The words escape your mouth in tiny breaths, urgent and important. You open your eyes and remain astonished at the celestial display of the universe’s grandeur. Something suddenly clicks inside your mind. This moment is to be shared. This moment is not meant to be seen alone. You turn around to point the shooting star to your companion and–

Slowly, the astonishment vanishes from your face and gives way to a startling realization: you are alone. There is no one here with you.

A chill runs through your spine. A mixture of fear and sadness penetrates your soul. And, as though a malevolent being has sniffed the fear off you, the lights inside the building go out. You are in the midst of darkness. You face the glass windows once again, hoping to find solace at the shooting star and the city lights. But the shooting star is gone. As for steady burn of sparkle and shine? The distant light of stars and supernovas cannot save you from the desolation of this dark place. This you know now. This you have learned.

With a heavy heart, full of conflicting emotions and thoughts best left unsaid, you make your way to the elevator. You press the button and wait for your lift to come. A few moments later, it arrives. You get in. The door closes.

It’s 11 PM, and you’re going down, down, down.

Filed under: Eros, Fiction, Yes?, Ra

What’s Hot and What’s Not: American Idol Top 11

You know the drill: 50% Vocals, 30% Appeal/Marketability, 20% Kerwin Bias. To recap last week’s performances: Danny kicked ass, Adam stirred people’s souls, and Alexis was a dirty little Diana. Remember those names, because you’re going to see them earlier in this list than usual.

Top 11
The Grand Ol’ Opry Night

11 Scott MacIntyre. Wild Angels. Vocals: 10th + Appeal: 11th + Bias: 11th = 50.00%. Peak Position: 11th. Average Ranking: 11.5.

Give him Stevie Wonder glasses, please! For the love of God, if he’s gonna stay long, give him Randy Santiago shades! It will make me like him more, promise! Randy Travis, what’s not quite right is his EYES! AND!!! Paula made sense! Simon is wrong! Stop making me write exclamation points! I am going to hell!

10 Allison Iraheta. Blame it on Your Heart. Vocals: 11th + Appeal: 9th + Bias: 9th = 61.50%. Peak Position: 10th. Average Ranking: 10.

I really don’t hate Allison. But there’s just something in her voice that I dislike. (Amazingly, this “something” in her voice is precisely the reason why people like her.) Maybe she’s just not my cup of tea. Her voice sounds flat at times, and I agree when Simon said it was a bit toneless.

9 Lil Rounds. Independence Day. Vocals: 4th + Appeal: 9th + Bias: 10th = 70.50%. Peak Position: 5th. Average Ranking: 7.

Country wasn’t made for everyone. While Lil’s vocals were good, they lacked that spark. Maybe because she held back on her R&B style? I would hate boxing her into that category, but whatever. I’m not really that invested into her, anyway. And the long back-and-forth between the judges? Tiresome and not at all enlightening. This space is full of BLAH, MEH, and *shoulder shrugs*.

8 Alexis Grace. Jolene. Vocals: 7th + Appeal: 4th + Bias: 6th = 70.75%. Peak Position: 3rd. Average Ranking: 5.5.

My like for Alexis cannot compensate for this so-so performance. I’m thinking I liked it better when Brooke White sang it last year, and I didn’t even like it all that much then. And what’s with the dirt comments? I hope Christina Aguilera week comes around and she picks “DIRRRTY.” I would love to see her wearing those big red gloves.

7 Michael Sarver. Ain’t Going Down Til the Sun Comes Up. Vocals: 7th + Appeal: 7th + Bias: 3rd = 71.00%. Peak Position: 6th. Average Ranking: 6.5.

His voice really suited the song, and he must have worked quite a country twang in that performance. It was fun and enjoyable to listen to. Another side of me thinks, however, that it took effort to sing those words, and it showed. There was a slight struggle there.

6 Adam Lambert. Ring of Fire. Vocals: 9th + Appeal: 1st + Bias: 8th = 71.75%. Peak Position: 2nd. Average Ranking: 4.

I feel harassed, molested, and kicked in the head for good measure. I don’t feel good. I should file a lawsuit.

5 Megan Joy Corkrey. Walking After Midnight. Vocals: 6th + Appeal: 7th + Bias: 7th = 72.00%. Peak Position: 5th. Average Ranking: 8.

Hmmm. Interesting.

4 Danny Gokey. Jesus Take the Wheel. Vocals: 4th + Appeal: 4th + Bias: 4th = 75.00%. Peak Position: 1st. Average Ranking: 2.5.

Isn’t it one of the cardinal rules of American Idol NOT to sing the hits of an alumnus? And an especially spectacular one like Jesus Take the Wheel? He took it right out of the park when he reached the chorus, but even then, I kept on wondering how he could take on someone like Carrie Underwood. I mean, Carrie, really? Man, my favorites are depressing me tonight. Thank goodness for Kris Allen.

3 Matt Giraud. So Small. Vocals: 3rd + Appeal: 4th + Bias: 4th = 76.25%. Peak Position: 3rd. Average Ranking: 5.

I take back what I said about the cardinal rules of singing in American Idol (see Gokey, Danny). It can be done. Matt did it with enough competence, and did the song justice. I wish he’d go far. This guy’s versatility is something to look forward to week after week.

2 Anoop Desai. Always on My Mind. Vocals: 1st + Appeal: 3rd + Bias: 2nd = 82.50%. Peak Position: 2nd. Average Ranking: 5.5.

Wow. Second set of goosebumps for the night. His song choice was perfect, his vocals were spot-on, his delivery was flawless, and his control was just impeccable. That was spectacular. I love his personality, I love him taking all the praises in, and I love that he said “impetus” during his interview. Definitely the best I’ve seen from Anoop.

1 Kris Allen. To Make You Feel My Love. Vocals: 1st + Appeal: 1st + Bias: 1st = 85.00%. Peak Position: 1st. Average Ranking: 2.5.

That was amazing in so many levels. From some other contestant, it would have probably bored me, but Kris transformed the song into something quite touching. When he sang the first few notes, I got goosebumps. Pure is right. Tender is right. Beautiful is right. Whoever doubted Kris’s chances in going far can think again. This boy can sing.

ai8_kris_allen

Picture taken from americanidol.com.

Like I said, those were pretty disappointing performances from Danny, Adam, and even Alexis. My second tier bets, however– Anoop, Kris, and Matt– churned out amazingly “vulnerable” vocals, stealing the spotlight from the abovementioned crowned ones. Country is never an easy genre for those who have not grown accustomed to singing it (Lil), but it sure can revive the chances of those who were brought up with it (Megan).

So who’ll be out? I dearly hope it’ll be Scott’s turn tomorrow.

Filed under: The Couch Potato, TV

What’s Hot and What’s Not: The Rest of Them

You know the show The Soup? A witty guy named Joel McHale hosts it, and I just love that show. [The Soup: 5 stars]. In any case, The Soup basically lines up the most noteworthy things that happened during the week in TV and comments on them. It’s like E! without the pretense of presenting gossip as journalistic news. [E!: 1 star]. What I’m going to do is to comment on the shows that I download and watch each week. Just my opinion, so definitely your mileage may vary. I’m no Joel McHale, but at least I’m not going to end up like Jimmy Fallon on his first days as Late Night host. EPIC FAIL! (Just kidding. I haven’t watched Jimmy Fallon’s show, and I don’t download late night TV episodes. That’s going to take up the entirety of my 320 GB Maxtor EHD. Besides, I have already made up my mind that Conan O’ Brien is still the best thing that’s happened to late night TV.)

Let the pop references– and the spoilers, too, if you haven’t watched the latest fresh US episodes– rain forth! For emphasis: SPOILERS AHEAD! SPOILERS AHEAD! SPOILERS AHEAD!

American Idol, Season 8

ai8_kris_allen Let’s begin with the most popular, and the one everyone’s most likely to have watched: American Idol. I’ve recapped my thoughts on the performances here, so you can browse through those, and in the process see a massive dose of bias for Danny Gokey, Adam Lambert, and Kris Allen. Those three aren’t going anywhere.

But enough of those fabulous people, let’s talk about THE TWIST for just a second. Is it hot or not? It’s definitely a HOT for me. While the choice of Chris Daughtry and Tamayra Gray are laughable (they got booted fourth, people, so they won’t really be saved by the Judges’ Save), it’s an interesting twist that brings something new to the table. Some people may dismiss it as a way to save the judges’ crowned ones, but they are crowned ones for a reason– they’re going to get a lot of votes. Complacency happens almost rarely before Top 5. So I think the judges are going to use it for someone other than the crowned ones. I have a feeling it might be used for Allison Iraheta.

A shameful confession: I want Scott MacIntyre to get booted next. I’m not mad that he’s still there– in fact, I like this season’s contestants– I just find him disorienting. But as of now, Jasmine Murray and Jorge Nunez will have to do.  [American Idol: 4 stars]

America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 12

antmThe usual band of suspects are back, and Tyra Banks is the goddess, the beacon of light, to lead them all to the path of model insignificance. It’s Episode 2 and the bitches are getting their hair done! Yes, Tyra-lovers and Tyra-haters, it’s makeover time! It’s probably not going to matter since they’re all going to have their hair redone each photo shoot they take, but whatever, right? It’s a Tyracracy, and Ms. Jay and Mr. Jay will ensure that you all bow down to Tyra’s will– the Ms with his skinny chocolate legs, and the Mr with his electrifying silver hair. Be very scared.

Honestly, ANTM is still fascinating, but it’s also getting a little tired. Wannabe models bitching at each other, crying over hair being cut, Tyra telling us to look fierce and smiling with our eyes– been there, done that. Perhaps this is the reason why they decided to shake things up next season and looking for models that are 5’7 and below. Now, that’s bound to exciting. Eva Pigfords of the world, unite!

As for this season, I’m rooting for London the street preacher cool chick and Celia the modelesque-but-too-old-and-will-probably-be-eliminated-before-the-final-two contestant (who, by the way, reminds me a lot of a less beautiful but funkier Renee in Jaslene‘s cycle). While Jessica reminds me of Vanessa f*ing Abrams (who, interestingly, is played by Jessica Szohr),  I don’t like the burn victim Tahlia more (I don’t like the burn victim story, and I hate how the name is spelled). And for this week’s photo shoot, I thought she deserved to go home more than Fo or Jessica. I know Tahlia won’t win, I just don’t like her around that much. For that: [America’s Next Top Model: 2.5 stars]

P.S. What’s up with the quality of the photos this season? It’s been two weeks already, and they’re showing photos that are terribly blurry and uninspiring. I know some people who could produce better photos than that, Nigel Barker and Tyra.

Dollhouse

dollhouse Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is back with a vengeance with this spankin’ brand new series about people who get their minds wiped, imprinted with personalities, and then get sent out to the world with missions embedded in their passive little brains. If you haven’t heard about this yet, better catch up quick. It’s a fantastic series, and yet there are rumors of its cancellation so early in the rankings game. I know you and I can’t pretty much save it by downloading the episodes way after they’re shown in the US, but a little love never hurt!

This week, Echo (played by Eliza Dushku) is a midwife in the opening scenes, and there is no justification to that little part at all. It didn’t progress the episode any, and if it were a commentary, it was done a little too heavy-handedly. Thank goodness the rest of the episode went very, very well. I forgot how some of my favorite Buffy episodes were those that were done with a touch of subtlety in moving the season’s plot along (see Season 5, Glory and the annoying little Key). Joss Whedon is good, and it showed itself gobsmack in the middle of this episode. Echo is implanted with the personality of a kick-ass thief. While in the middle of the mission, she gets a call from her Handler (played by Harry Lennix), and while in the middle of that call (I told you it was gobsmack in the middle), her mind gets wiped. Kick-ass thief persona gone. Echo descends into a hodgepodge of fear and innocence and understanding and it’s really just very brilliant. It forms a whole new facet of how the Actives and the Dollhouse work, and it provides enough story to make you wonder: what else is there?

Note to the reading public, whoever you may be: download Dollhouse. If it doesn’t get you hooked, I don’t know what will. [Dollhouse: 4.5 stars]

As for the rest of the shows I watch and download and get emotional about:

The Amazing Race, Season 14.

the_amazing_raceWell played, Luke the sneaky deaf kid! You probably just Blind U-Turned the toughest competition you’ll ever have in this race out of it. But also: BOO! for taking out the eye candy. You mean and evil child. You deserve whatever cold you get in Siberia next week.

I kid. [The Amazing Race: 4.5 stars]

The Apprentice: Celebrity Edition, Season 2.

the_apprenticeGood for you, Tom Green! I always thought that Scott Hamilton was a non-celeb, and he’s a snooty non-celeb at that. While I do think you were being sneaky too, I would do the same thing just to annoy the hell out of Scott. And who in hell doesn’t use a name starting with a Z to create a mascot for a website called Zappos.com?!? EEE?!? Realleee, Scott?

Good call on this one, Mr. Trump. [The Apprentice: 3.5 stars]

Hell’s Kitchen, Season 5.

hell's_kitchenThe show is getting tiring. Don’t get me wrong, I love Gordon Ramsay to pieces, but the dynamics of the game hasn’t really changed since its inception. I wish they threw a wrench in the rules somewhere. Or even create rules in the first place. The “choose two of your teammates up for elimination” doesn’t call for strategy (or pathetic begging from teammates) because Gordon Ramsay has the last say. In the previous week’s episode, the two people up for elimination were sent back in line and another is sent home packing. Yes, Colleen was a little thick by opening a culinary class while she herself doesn’t know how to cook, and yes, she failed in proving her worth for five episodes running, but… hmmm, I forgot the but. I think Gordon was right. He always is. I’m a donkey for not remembering that. [Hell’s Kitchen: 3 stars]

These are the shows that I’m following this season. I’m adding a couple more to my repertoire: Make Me A Supermodel (the first 2 episodes of Season 2 I’m downloading as I type), and Kings, a new series depicting a modern-day King David story. The second one sounds very promising.

P.S. Thank God, tomorrow’s the next episode of Gossip Girl. I was getting worried for my show. I hope they already fixed that ridiculous Ms. Rachel Carr plotline. And whatever happened to Jack Bass and Blair Waldorf on New Year’s?! Are we ever going to find out?

Filed under: The Couch Potato, TV

Hopeless Emptiness

A COMMENTARY ON REVOLUTIONARY ROAD
Leonardo diCaprio, Kate Winslet

On the surface, everything looks composed and organized. A modest house with room for the kids, a newly-mowed lawn, a decent car. mparevolutionaryroadposterSuburbia. This is the stuff mainland America is made of. This is the stuff people want for themselves. After all, who doesn’t want stability in their lives? Who wouldn’t want to wake up each morning knowing that there are going to be scrambled eggs and orange juice on the table? Who wouldn’t want to go to work knowing that there’s a job out there waiting for him, and perhaps a modest paycheck to feed himself, the wife and kids?

People who want more from life, that’s who. People who were born to be over and beyond what society dictates them to be. People who truly believe they exist to create a difference in the world. For these people, the perfectly composed suburban scenario is nothing but a trap. It stifles. It reeks of pretense.

Frank Wheeler (Leonardo diCaprio) and April Wheeler (Kate Winslet) have moved into their new home in Revolutionary Road, and there they learn that that their lives are going to be anything but revolutionary. With a job Frank hates, and a housewife role April despises, they set out to be better than who they are by moving to Paris. Acknowledging that they have lived what Frank calls a “hopeless existence” is only half of the equation, however; getting out of it is another matter entirely.

Hmmm, hopeless emptiness. John Givings (Michael Shannon), a mathematician plagued by a case of insanity, said it best: people hint at the emptiness, but never really see the hopelessness. This is perhaps the reason why people moan at the redundancy, but never recognize the futility of living the redundancy. So they do things again and again, believing that something is out for them, when in fact everything stays the same. By the time they realize that something’s amiss, their entire life has passed them by, and they end up bitter and sad and mad at the world. What’s worse, they end up bitter and sad and mad at themselves. For failing to see. For failing to act.

A road can lead two ways, and it’s perfectly fine to use both of them. The only mistake is to stay behind without using at all.

[Revolutionary Road is a comeback for the famous Titanic tandem of diCaprio and Winslet. diCaprio’s and Winslet’s performances are spot-on and quite effective. They’ve gone a long way since Titanic, which I didn’t even watch on the big screen (can ya believe it?). The music is quite minimal, and it works. In fact, the scenes are quite minimilastic; you get the idea that while suburban life may be this clean, a tiny speck of dust (or blood) is all it takes to destroy the entire picture.]

Filed under: Cinema, Domesticated, Mindlifting, The Couch Potato