Monday, December 03, 2007

Waxing poetic in the metro II

The first one almost got me in trouble, but well, here it is.

Berso sa metro # 2

Me pides sampaguitas... No te envío,
porque, al ir a cortarlas de la rama,
sentí temblar mis manos y mi pecho
prensado por la lástima.

No quiero que padezcan esas flores,
como padece, lejos de tí, mi alma,
no quiero que al contacto de mis manos
perezcan marchitadas.

Humingi ka ng sampaguita... Di kita bibigyan.
dahil nang puputulin ko na sa mga sanga'y
nanginig ang aking kamay at ang dibdib ko'y
nanikip dahil sa awa.

Ayokong magdusa ang mga bulaklak na iyan,
gaya ng pagdurusa ng puso kong malayo sa iyo;
ayokong sa sandaling hawakan ng aking kamay,
iya'y malanta at mamatay....

- Jose Palma (1876-1903)

Berso sa metro #3

Si alguna vez la vida te maltrata,
acuerdate de mi,
que no puede cansarse de esperar
aquel que no se cansa de mirarte.

Kung sakaling malupit sa iyo ang kapalaran,
alalahanin mo ako,
dahil hndi mapapagod sa paghihintay
itong walang sawang tumitingin sa iyo.

- Luis Garcia Montero

Friday, November 30, 2007

Beowulf: How to take liberties with a classic and not get away with it

I had been looking forward to seeing Beowulf in 3D and finally I did it. So now, 450 pesos later (that’s 300 for the movie ticket and 150 for lunch – let me tell you, don’t attempt to watch a 3D film while eating lunch; I gobbled up my burger and fries 10mins before it started as I didn’t want to get distracted), here’s my verdict.

As usual, I didn’t read any reviews or join any discussions about the movie beforehand, but I did get wind that the story was a bit thin. No kidding, it should have been epic, it’s a classic piece of literature after all, a great hero story. It would have been so easy to make an animated feature of epic proportions, right? Well, apparently not. Don’t get me wrong, it WAS entertaining (I’m no purist) and it WAS a sight to behold (not perfect though), but what about the story?

Beowulf stands proud as one of the best known Old English hero epic poems in history. It’s a classic, and classics are called that because they are great stories. So with a base material like that, how can one go wrong? It is when one takes the risk of changing it. As it turns out, Roger Avary and Neil Gaiman took liberties with the plot, and oh mama, what huge liberties they were! (I am not sure though how much of Gaiman’s contribution was retained; I read that a rewrite was done somewhere along the way.) Now I don’t have a problem with writers making changes in movie adaptations (especially when I’m not intimately familiar with the original source material to begin with *cough*), as it’s always interesting to me to see if it will work or not. For this particular movie, I found that replacing the archetypal hero story – you know, great noble hero fighting many great battles against unimaginably formidable forces of evil and whatnot -- with a 21st century proclivity for anti-hero themes could have been so much more powerful than how it actually turned out. (I happen to be a fan of anti-hero stories.) It had potential which wasn’t quite reached.

If you like your heroes as perfect, infallible, noble warriors then you won’t like Beowulf at all. In the first half of the film, he is portrayed as this boastful, self-centered Calvin Klein-ish metrosexual (I don’t know, did anyone else get that vibe?) with a taste for hyperbole in the retelling of his heroic deeds. (But hey, it must have been a bitch being a hero in those times, being pressured into acting the part of a character you know would later be spun into songs and tales orally handed down from generation to generation for ages. If you were to be in a song or tale, wouldn’t you want to look good? I would have exaggerated too, heh. And on another less relevant note: that Ray Winstone sure sounded good, such great voice and delivery that I forgave him the annoying “I... am Beowuuulf!”) So uh, where was I? ...Ah right, Beowulf as the flawed hero. They could have made so much more of Beowulf’s burden, the king’s shame (both Hrothgar’s and Beowulf’s), the price of their ambition, and the demon (Grendel’s mother). Beyond the semi-naked Lara Croft in demon pigtails (hee hee) and heels (hwaar har), the only demonstration of evil shown was the visitation of her awesome power (which we didn’t even get to see, maybe it will be in the DVD’s deleted scenes? *sarcastic*) on Beowulf’s thanes in Heorot upon Grendel’s death. And uhm, oh yeah, I suppose seducing Beowulf, and more so, Anthony Hopkins, is evil. Seriously though, the notion that the greater demon is greed, pride, and ambition, that in itself could have been played much better. There were moments that could have been epic (e.g. the battle between the demon and Beowulf, Beowulf’s realization of his mistake as Hrothgar practically handed him the kingship, Beowulf’s death) but weren’t. In my opinion, the technology got in the way of telling and experiencing the story. If I hadn’t been so wrapped in the details perhaps I could have taken it more seriously. Instead I was thinking: Hmm, nice stones, very gravelly. Why are their garments so flat, hanging there like they were paper clothes on a 3-dimensional head? Oh look, Unferth has newly rebounded hair. John Malkovich, man, you act so much better in person. Never ever do this again. Ooh Anthony Hopkins, that was him – eww, I don’t want to see him naked thank goodness everything is CGI’ed. Why is Beowulf’s head old and weathered while his body is still Calvin Klein model-ish? Nice detail on Angelina’s face, soft down of tiny hairs. Eh, are my 3D glasses broken? Oh right, it’s a night scene, 3D doesn’t do those well.

I could go on and on here, but the long and short of it is, yeah it’s quite entertaining and engaging. I even turned my head away in reflex when a piece of wood hurtled my way (sitting at eye level is recommended). But don’t watch it for the story. Maybe Neil can do that better in graphic novel form. Also, here’s what I’m wondering: could Peter Jackson and WETA have done it so much better? Ahem.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Remembering Batanes

Seeing the Inquirer 2BU's feature on Batanes (and Jill's fantastic pics) reminded me of my two trips there several years ago. Back then there were no direct flights from Manila to Basco. One had to go to Laoag and fly from there. They didn't sell two-way tickets, for the weather was so unpredictable. On one of our trips back we flew out to Tuguegarao on a cargo plane. The pilot went about town inquiring about passengers who wanted to head out. The flight was scheduled like it was a jeepney trip, arranged almost at the passengers' convenience. (That is to say, the schedule was alas-puno.) There were no seats on the cargo plane - we had to find what little space there was behind the cockpit (I could have easily tickled the pilot's ear had I felt like it), or else sit on Monobloc chairs. I remember I stood and walked about for a good portion of the trip.

I dug up my travel journal and found this entry. I should go back there sometime soon...

Mooning Over Monsoon Country
Batanes Resort, Basco, Batanes.
9:55 p.m.

In about two hours, all lights will go out in the entire island. I shan’t be hearing anything other than the crashing waves outside. Tomorrow I shall rise a half-hour before daybreak, to witness morning light shining upon vast grasslands bound by this angry shore. I sleep and I rise amidst an unspeakably beautiful seascape.

This is monsoon country… is it small wonder that my thoughts now turn to water?

This afternoon I noticed glints of silver along the waters, near the horizon. It was like a cascade of stars tumbling along the water’s folds. Along the shore the continuous flow and ebb of the tides created a calming rhythm. As the waves beat against the sand, a narrow strip of aqua blue appeared and disappeared, distinct against the cobalt blue covering the most part of the sea.

Two days ago, as we approached Chavayan Village in the pouring rain, we saw curtains of rain from the Pacific approaching the coastline, towards the village. It was as if sheets of icicles were being dropped from overhead. Near the coast the water changed to aqua blue as the waves crashed on the shore. The rest of the Pacific was a deep, deep sparkly blue.

I had dreaded the 30-minute boat ride to Sabtang the day before we went, being the aquaphobic coward that I am (well, who wouldn’t be if you didn’t know how to swim?). But when we finally were crossing the South China Sea, I became somewhat mesmerized by the deep blue color that stretched out before and around us. We rode the waves to get to Sabtang. At times the tide would swell, and if one looked to the right, one could see the water level rising higher than the boat’s hull. It was a curious sensation, feeling as if any minute one could easily be engulfed in those deep blue folds of the sea. It would be frightening for a split-second, and then utterly beautiful, the thought of being enfolded in that vast blanket of blue. Mighty curious, how I react to bodies of water. I fear being in it yet there’s something about it that draws me again and again. I love photographing the waters. I love staring at seascapes.

On the way back to Batan I sat atop the motor box the whole time, elevated so as to have a full view of the bow and the approaching island, and to feel the wind against my face. I rode the waves for a half hour and revelled in it.

[The individual pics in the collage above can be viewed better here.]

Monday, November 26, 2007

Neil Gaiman launches Pinoy Expeditions into the unreal

Right. I went to the Expeditions book launch and 2nd Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards held at Bonifacio High Street. Got a set of paperback Expeditions, one of which (the Comics volume) was pre-signed by Neil who wrote the Foreword, got my friend Y's cousins, first prize comics winners Waya and Lala Gallardo's autographs, stood around for ages (warranting foot reflexology afterwards), lost a favorite earring (waah), got no raffle prizes (I never win on raffles ack), found some amusement in Erik Mana's prestidigitations (a term foisted on the crowd by hosts Gabe Mercado and Karen Kunawicz, also a reference to the book American Gods) and the Bahaghari Ensemble's (not their complete name; sorry, it was too long and you know me, memory like a sieve!) strange ethnic music cum arnis/kali demo presentation (I felt like I was watching a video game hey!), saw some of the country's better known writers and artists in the comics/scifi/fantasy genre, and lastly, got to listen to Neil Gaiman.

For transcripts from that night, head on over to Charles Tan's blog. Images can be found at my flickr gallery. Check out how Neil assisted in Mana's magic trick, and in a fan's marriage proposal (for the latter I don't have a pic because it happened the day before, but the link is there, you'll have to look for it *wink*). Click on the pic below to get there:

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Neil Gaiman believes in Pinoy talent

It's heartening to know that such a writer as Neil Gaiman has faith in the Pinoy potential. He believes in the Pinoys' talent and creativity, but is frustrated at how disconnected we are from the rest of the world, as reported in Walang Pahinga's LJ. Some choice quotes that I borrowed from said LJ, from Neil's talk, Imagination and the Creativity in the Contemporary World, during the 20th Advertising Congress last Nov. 22:

"The important questions are what if? I wonder if...? If only...? What would happen if...? Everyone asks these and wonder. The best ideas come when we daydream. They come when we're bored. The only difference between other people and writers is that writers know when they're imagining and they know they're gonna pursue and write it."

"I don't believe in writer's block. Writers are very special. Ever heard of politician ever getting politics block? I don't think so. Especially not here. But writers have writer's block. I don't believe in it since they end up writing over 20,000 words explaining why they can't write what they should write. For me I believe writers get stuck. People get stuck. And when that happens to me, I get away from my computer, walk around, rest, have tea."

Neil also reportedly described Philippine folklore as "the coolest folklores in the world" and encouraged Pinoy writers to unleash them across the globe (or else he will). Check out this Inquirer article.

Charles Tan's blog has mp3s of the Ad Congress talk and Q&A, plus Neil's reading of an excerpt from his upcoming novel The Graveyard Book and Q&A from A Gathering of Dreamlings and Nightmares held in Subic Bay this morning.

I just found out that Azrael will attempt to air the Bonifacio High Street event live tomorrow in the internet via video streaming. Kewl! Go through here to watch it.

Friday, November 23, 2007

A taste for the surreal

My friend Ninfa introduced me just recently to the wonderful work of Maggie Taylor. Taylor creates images using a scanner, photographs, assorted objects and Adobe Photoshop. Here are samples of her work.

Twilight Swim ©Maggie Taylor / The Scientist ©Maggie Taylor

Woman Who Loves Fish ©Maggie Taylor / Distracted Cats ©Maggie Taylor

Check out her online gallery here. There are images that are whimsical, funny, strange, even disturbing. In June 2008, Modernbook Editions will publish an illustrated Alice's Adventures in Wonderland featuring Taylor's creations. For those interested in how the images are made: the downloadable Adobe Magazine (June 2007 issue) from has a feature which shows Maggie Taylor's creative process (very aptly entitled "Building A Dream"). Perhaps when I have time I'll try my hand at this. *excited*

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Is Amazon Kindle™ prompting a trend that will eventually make us set our books on fire?

It's an exciting time in the U.S. right now where book and gadget lovers alike are concerned (drats, when will we have access to this I wonder). Amazon very recently announced a new device that took 3 years in the making: the Amazon Kindle™, a wireless electronic book that has been described as nothing short of revolutionary. It was sold out in 5.5 hours.

I'm normally skeptical of e-books. I don't cherish the thought of reading novels on a computer monitor as I get tremendous eyestrain. And back pain. I'd rather curl up in bed with a book in hand. Don't you just love fondling the paper, smelling in between the pages (for new acquisitions, not old ones eh), tucking the book under your pillow or lining up your books beside you on the bed when it's time to go to sleep?

But after reading through Amazon's Kindle Product Page and watching the videos there, plus checking out some third party reviews, I'm stoked. Good thing we can't get it here because it's $399. Gah. Check out the display. It's called digital paper. And darn does it look crisp, as near an illusion of the printed page as any, dayum. There's no backlighting, ergo it will not cause as much eyestrain as does a computer screen. And judging by the demo video, using the device is highly intuitive. Successful technologies are marked by their capacity to disappear or become invisible. Those devices which you become so accustomed to that you no longer even think of or are conscious of when you handle them ("Oh hey, right, I'm reading a book with an electronic device, I forgot all about that."), those are the ones that have clicked. I think Kindle (admittedly imperfect as it is right now) just might be on the right track to replacing the printed page. ("Horrors!" I heard `ya!)

In any case, let's not let me babble on, best to point out just the crucial points. The best being: portability. You don't have to lug your books around, whether you're going to the coffee shop nearby, your school or office, or on a long vacation or a long road trip. No need to decide before you leave which book you want to have with you - take several! It's also a very attractive selling point for those who have serious storage problems (like moi). Load the Kindle with as many as 200 books at a time. When you're done and have no more space, delete it, and have it stored by Amazon online, ready to be downloaded again (at no cost) when or if you feel like reading it again. You can also use an SD card if you want to have all your books at your fingertips.

Come to think of it, portability and convenience are its two most important selling points. Perhaps I would get one even without the extras. Which are nice to have though, mind you: a built-in dictionary, the ability to bookmark, highlight passages or clip pages, to store personal photos and documents (yo hey, you can load your own novella in-progress if you like reading it to yourself every now and then), access to newspaper subscriptions, blogs, and hah, you can even load mp3s and have background music for your reading! And I almost forgot: with wireless technology (3G technology I gather), buying a book takes less than a minute. You just go to Amazon in your Kindle, choose a book, and ting! presto! you have your new book.

All this sounds fascinating, doesn't it? Don't take my word for it though, check out The New York Times: An E-Book Reader That Just May Catch On. Also Guardian Unlimited: The Kindle Doesn't Light My Fire for a contrary viewpoint, and BoingBoing Gadgets: Amazon Kindle eBook Review which spells out some problems but calls the device "promising". And google for more reviews.

Sudden thought: what about booksignings? Will it eventually become a forgotten tradition? Eh.

Disclaimer: Yeah right, easy for me to give a thumbs up. Because I can't get a Kindle of my own I'm just rambling on without risking any moolah on it. This is just my initial impression. Chalk it all up to excitement for the idea of the thing (I admit I'm quite susceptible to that.) If and when the Kindle catches on, and if it gets to these shores, hopefully with a more realistic pricing structure, maybe I'll get back to this.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

So Neil Gaiman has arrived

Neil is already in Manila according to his blog.
Seems there won't be a booksigning on Sunday at the Bonifacio High Street event. Perhaps they don't want to tire him out like they did in 2005, poor Neil, autographing thousands of books. Good thing I got a couple of mine signed. The only signing scheduled will be in Subic, where Neil will also be speaking at the 20th Philippine Advertising Congress. A couple of lovely posters by Ian Sta. Maria (check out Ian's multiply album to see larger versions. Neil asked for his autograph!):

Ruey de Vera already wrote a review of Expeditions, a set of two books (Comics & Prose) to be launched on Sunday. Something to look forward to evidently.

"Whether the words and images bow to your particular taste or not, whether they are miracle drug or mere placebo to you, whether it is the Escape key or the Enter key, there is no denying how both volumes of “Expeditions” are a testament to the remarkable promise and power of Filipino creativity in fiction and comics, the hurricane of words and images birthed from the fierce flapping of an unleashed butterfly’s wings."

A few frames from Pushing Daisies

I took screencaps, a few frames from Pushing Daisies (I stylized these a bit) Episode 6: Bitches. These illustrate a couple of reasons why I love the show.

Though he could animate the dead, Young Ned could only reanimate the inanimate with his imagination. On this lonely night he tried to recreate his past life, but he'd lost his ability to dream and found even his imagination failed him.

Still he wore hope on his head.

What Young Ned didn't know was at that very moment the girl he called Chuck was wearing hope on hers. They were together even if they were far apart.

The New Yorker doesn't seem to be optimistic about the show's prospects for longevity, stating that "“Pushing Daisies” probably shouldn’t last longer than a season; fairy tales aren’t supposed to go on forever. It will then take its place proudly beside other worthy efforts that lived fast, died young, and left behind a beautiful DVD." Part of me wishes it doesn't end so soon, but at the same time I'm worried about whether they'll be able to keep up the same quality. *cough Heroes cough*

Monday, November 19, 2007

Shelfari with me, why don't cha?

I admit I haven't been reading much lately (apart from Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix which I read nightly to put me to sleep), and my eyesight hasn't been getting any better (I haven't been using my eyeglasses). But I will get right down to it. Here's a glimpse of the contents of my Shelfari Reading List of the moment. (Click on the image to see my Shelfari shelf.)

Shelfari is a social networking site of sorts, but it is books that binds people together here. The interface is much like Flickr's (which I love). You can build your shelf, add friends, recommend books for them, browse their shelves, join groups, participate in discussions, and so on. Membership is free. Shelfari got a much coveted partnership with Amazon, which pays them a small amount for books bought at Amazon through a referral made by Shelfari. (Note that you do NOT have to buy to keep your account.) There are still some kinks and bugs they have to fix -- well ok, it's not only "some" kinks if you ask me, but that's only because I complain a lot and want so many things all at once - Flickr has `em, why can't Shelfari too? Like I was supposed to post a widget above, but there's something up and it wouldn't display properly so I just posted an image of the widget. Had it been working you'd have been able to click on each of those books on the shelf and gone to that particular Shelfari book page. Sounds nifty, huh? But alas something got lost in translation. Maybe the javascript, maybe it's blogger, who knows? But they've got a shiny new spanking techie team working on the site right now. That's what they're saying anyhow.

Still and all, I like what I see so far and I'm inviting you to come join me. Go to and let's get reading. (Or else I'll keep bugging you with invitation e-mails. Half-kidding. Shelfari got a lot of flak from their first invitation e-mail program because it kept sending itself to all the people in members' address books. But worry not, that has been fixed. As with most things in the world wide web, it's best to be careful: read before you click. That was the primary flaw of the invitation before - it required un-clicking a lot to keep the program from doing the annoying thing, and only one click to get it going.)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Waxing poetic in the metro

Last week on the LRT Line 2 I was pleasantly surprised to find poetry on the train. There were posters inside the train with pretty pictures and layouts of texts in Spanish and Filipino. I instantly thought that it must be a project of Instituto Cervantes, one of the most active cultural institutions here in Manila. So I stepped closer and found it was indeed their project. I had a backpack with a laptop strapped to me and only a very short ride, so I messed up the pic. Just tonight I attempted another shot, and again I had a backpack and a quick ride, so this is still blurry but it will have to do (clickie for larger image):

Berso sa metro # 1

The text reads

Oh Maynila, sa talulot
ng mahinhing liryo isinilang!
mabunying prinsesang nahihimlay
sa bula ng karagatan!

Oh Manila, en la corola
de un casto lirio nacida!
gentil princesa dormida
sobre la espuma del mar!

A Manila
Pacifico Victoriano

According to the Inquirer, Berso sa Metro is a campaign aimed at promoting reading among Filipino commuters and strengthening Filipino-Spanish ties. The works of Filipino (Jose Rizal, Jesús Balmori, Claro M. Recto, José Palma, Evangelina Guerrero, Pacifico Victoriano and Fernando Maria Guerrero), Spanish (Calderón de la Barca, Lope de Vega, García Lorca, Antonio Machado, Luis Cernuda, Luis Rosales, Miguel Hernández and Gil de Biedma) and Latin American poets (Pablo Neruda and César Vallejo) have been selected for us to enjoy. The campaign is planned to run for three months but may be extended depending on the public's response. A quick blogsearch tells me there are people taking notice of (and pleasure from) Berso sa Metro:

I Heart Manila
Let a hundred flowers bloom
Digital Buryong
...and then some
sealed with a kiss
Loving Multiply, Multiplying Love
The Coolness that was...

Another poem I spotted was Pablo Neruda's Tu Risa. I messed up the pic (wide shot while sitting, sorry, my aching back!)

but here's the text:

Ríete de la noche,
del día, de la luna,
ríete de las calles
torcidas de la isla,
ríete de este torpe
muchacho que te quiere,
pero cuando yo abro
los ojos y los cierro,
cuando mis pasos van,
cuando vuelven mis pasos,
niégame el pan, el aire,
la luz, la primavera
pero tu risa nunca
porque me moriría.

Pagtawanan mo ang gabi,
ang araw, ang buwan
Pagtawanan mo ang liku-likong
landas sa isla,
Pagtawanan mo ang torpeng
lalaking ito na nagmamahal sa iyo,
Ngunit kapag bubuksan ko
at isasara ang aking mga mata,
Kapag ako ay umalis,
kapag ako ay muling bumalik
Ipagkait mo na sa akin ang tinapay,
ang hangin, ang liwanag at ang tagsibol,
Huwag lamang ang iyong ngiti
Dahil ito’y aking ikasasawi

(They should have acknowledged the translator of all the poems they used. Or perhaps it was indicated in small print, I just didn't see it?)

Now if only they take this bright idea and start posting more of Philippine art and literature. Say, post comic strips in series. Or Philippine art - photographs of paintings, sculptures, and so on. Illustrations from children's books. They can even serialize these, make it a game or puzzle for children and adults alike. Wouldn't that be a treat?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Guess who's coming (again)?

Larger image and details at the Fully Booked website.

Neil actually broached the idea of holding Graphic/Fiction awards after his visit here in Manila in 2005, seeing how much talent our local artists have. Below are links to the winners of the 1st Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards, Comics category. (Still looking for links to the winners of the prose fiction category.) Said winners are published in Expeditions which will be launched at the 2nd Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards.

Grand winner
The Sad, Mad Incredible but True Adventures of Hika Girl

Runners up
Defiant: The Battle for Mactan

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


I re-uploaded these just recently:

I got my Neil Gaiman album from my old filphoto gallery and brought it over to my flickr gallery. Click on the image to view the album:

Neil Gaiman, Manila, July 2005.

I also re-posted my Angkor slideshow (from my dailymotion page) since there were some having problems accessing the original one I posted (from photobucket). So the slideshow ought to work better now - updated My Angkor Movie entry.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Morbidly yours

I'm a tad late in posting this but hey, `tis still the season for talk about the dead, death and dying. Yes, morbid thoughts, but not necessarily sad or depressing.


First off, let me tell you what new tv show has taken my fancy lately, and what you should also be watching: Pushing Daisies. It's a sort of forensic or procedural fairy tale (say what?), a dark comedy that has caught my attention much like Six Feet Under did when I first discovered it (that is, before it went a tad too dark to be funny. I did like how SFU finished though). Pushing Daisies is about Ned, a piemaker who has the power to bring the dead back to life by a mere touch. But if he lets the newly undead live for more than a minute, the nearest living thing of the same species will die. To prevent this, he must touch said newly undead again - to die forever. Now Ned has a partner, Private Investigator Emerson Cod. Cod finds people who have died under questionable circumstances, the solution of whose murders carry a reward. They go to the see the corpse, Ned touches it, they ask the undead who killed them and presto, case solved (not so straightforwardly, naturally). Sounds lucrative, no?

In the pilot episode (cleverly entitled Pie-lette hee hee), said corpse happens to be that of Chuck, Ned's childhood crush and first kiss. Ned ends up letting her live. Which makes Emerson very unhappy (because it spells 3 way split on the reward money from then on). So here we have it, Ned and his childhood sweetheart reunite, never to kiss again. Talk about platonic, well this takes the cake. Or pie as the case may be.

The show has been said to be reminiscent of Amelie and Tim Burton movies. Each episode is introduced by a narrator, in keeping with a storybook-like feel that is complemented by super-saturated colors and CGI. The dialogue is witty, littered with brilliant turns of phrase, and delivered in tongue-twisting speed. Any show that gets me continuously chuckling, giggling, snickering, snorting, laughing, and guffawing and hah-ing and ooh-ing and ahh-ing, is an instant favorite of mine. The characters (and that includes the narrator and Digby, Ned's golden retriever) are all lovable and wonderfully casted.

Very early on (that is to say, after the pilot), naysayers (including myself) have speculated that this show will not likely last beyond one season, for how long can you keep the whole resurrect-the-dead-and-solve-the-case schtick going? And how will you keep things interesting between Ned and Chuck? But after having seen 5 episodes already, I've forgotten to be skeptic. Who cares if they do the same thing all the time - some shows have stayed on using far less imaginative formats - the show is the most delightful there is on tv right now (right, like I actually watch TV. Hah!). What's not to love? As for Ned and Chuck, well. Surprisingly, the producers didn't bide their time at all because we see Ned and Chuck kissing in the 2nd ep. Hah!

So far, Pushing Daisies has gotten lots of good press, and critical acclaim to boot. It's been picked up for one full season. (Hopefully, the Writers Guild of America strike will be resolved soon, but if it isn't, the season might end with episode 9, according to You might want to check out the official website. Here's a preview of the show's pilot:


On a less flighty note. I wouldn't be surprised if none of you had ever heard of Loreena McKennitt, she's not that well-known in these parts. Certainly not as popular as Enya to whom she is often compared. In keeping with the theme of this post, I thought it apt to share this favorite track of mine from McKennitt's album The Book of Secrets.

In a lonely train journey across Siberia, Loreena thought of Dante's The Divine Comedy and wrote this song. It is a profound meditation on the human condition, on what lies beyond life. I have loved it since the first time I heard it. It moves me with each listen.

Dante's Prayer

When the dark wood fell before me
And all the paths were overgrown
When the priests of pride say there is no other way
I tilled the sorrows of stone

I did not believe because I could not see
Though you came to me in the night
When the dawn seemed forever lost
You showed me your love in the light of the stars

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me

Then the mountain rose before me
By the deep well of desire
From the fountain of forgiveness
Beyond the ice and the fire

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me

Though we share this humble path, alone
How fragile is the heart
Oh give these clay feet wings to fly
To touch the face of the stars

Breathe life into this feeble heart
Lift this mortal veil of fear
Take these crumbled hopes, etched with tears
We'll rise above these earthly cares

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me...

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

From my old files

A hack dreams of Klimtian Viggo / Viggoesque Klimt.

Beholder II

See here, that odd congregation of flags,
those black dogs vanishing in a haze,
a leaf on a chilled forest floor,
curled trunk, stained tusk, white camisole,
cluttered graffiti on the walls.
These random abstractions,
recent forgeries of the ways of things,
they are what I revere,
the elusive, the fleeting, the evanescent ---
the moment that passes over once, and fades.
You say I take far too many,
that I seem to be in constant vigil
of scenes at the periphery.
Is it some coincidence of memory
that compels, some urge to mark
the ebb and flow of days,
lest they go stale, lay mundane?
And I say, what does it cost to remark on
the lines of this silhouette,
the graceful fall of fabric beside decorated skin,
the eloquence of ghosts dancing, or
an ineffable fleck of pale wings undulating in green?
What is there to remember: a tail, a hand, an ear,
a baby’s foot, dead fish, or calf, pig, or bird,
passing through the desolation of Tamdacht,
disappearing into Chetwood’s otherworldliness,
the bright chaos at Odense, the prospect
of a snowstorm at Te Anau,
even the daily grind in Venice.
It’s all I know to take, how can I disengage?
These are my points of focus, uncertain
exposures now merging in a blur.
See, underneath this assemblage
of traces, evocations, ephemera ---
Wanyánkin ye yo. Look at it:
Miyelo. It is I.
Kholá, it is you.

19 October, 2003

Note. The digital collage was an entry I submitted for a creativity contest at a couple of years ago. For the collage, I drew the lizard, took the swirly light photos, and used a poem I had written the year before for the background text. Beholder II above is that same poem. I won a Viggo Mortensen CD for the collage (or was it a book, I forget). I can't remember if I entered the poem simultaneously for the poetry category. I think I won something for that, too.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ebben! (Or perhaps I shouldn't have looked it up)

Since my friend Yuan gave me a copy of Cafe del Mar Aria 2, I've loved this aria. I'm not sure how opera lovers would react to this modernized version (composed, conducted and produced by Paul Schwartz, performed by Isobel Griffiths) -- they might very well retch and gag and swear. So I looked up the opera from which it came.

La Wally by Alfredo Catalani, it turns out, is about Wally, a young woman from the mountain village of Tyrol, who is forced by her father into a marriage she does not want. Instead of favoring Gellner, her betrothed, she falls in love with the minstrel Hagenbach. In the last Act she sings Ebben? Ne andro lontana as she leaves her home in the mountains forever. The track above has always struck me as joyous and euphoric - whenever I listen to it I feel like singing along (but of course I can't) and I sort of imagine myself in a cheesy "The hills are alive with the sound of music" sort of scenery - so imagine my surprise when I read that in the opera, Wally later on throws herself into a passing avalanche. Yikes. Remind me never to attempt to sing along to this when I'm up in the mountains. Brrr, knee-weakening imagery, that. (Read more about the plot here - it's much more complicated than I described. At some point Wally actually asks Gellner to kill Hagenbach, Gellner pushes the latter into a ravine, Hagenbach survives, Wally goes and rescues him because no one else in the village would, and so on and so forth.)

Check out this page for the lyrics and English translation of the aria. Below is a more classical version sung by Sarah Jenkins.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tenacious Player

To test if this thing will work, let's bring in the funny. Hee hee. You have to admit, the guy can sing. I believe Let's Get It On is the song he sang in the John Cusack movie High Fidelity.

Haaah it works! Seems to be loading a tad too slowly though, is it me, my connection, or my file host? Hmm.

Monday, October 22, 2007

TV at its finest: Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Inner Light

The Inner Light is one of the most well-loved episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation (ST:TNG), and for good reason. It won the 1993 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation given at the World Science Fiction Convention in San Francisco. It was the first television program to be so honored since the original series Star Trek episode The City on the Edge of Forever in 1968.

Here's a quick rundown of the story: The U.S.S. Enterprise encounters an alien probe which emits a beam that renders Captain Picard unconscious. He wakes to find himself in a unfamiliar planet with a woman who claims to be his wife of 3 years. She says he is Kamin, a simple iron weaver. The planet is Kataan. He notices that she is wearing a pendant that closely resembles the alien probe they had encountered on the ship.

On board the Enterprise, the doctor is unable to revive the Captain. She advises against the destruction of the probe for it seems that any disruption of the beam puts the Captain's life in danger. Meanwhile, in Kataan, five years have passed and Picard has settled into his life. A drought is destroying the planet, and he suggests solutions but the administrator laughs at his outlandish ideas. Later, on the ship, Geordi and Data trace the origins of the probe to a planet that has long been dead, destroyed in a supernova explosion a thousand years ago.

As minutes pass aboard the Enterprise, years pass for Picard - as Kamin he has a son with whom he later discusses life choices, and a daughter who eventually realizes that Kataan is doomed. His wife Eline and good friend Batai pass away. His first grandchild is born. Kamin is 85 years old, and the drought has almost completely destroyed the planet.

Kamin's children and grandchildren insist on bringing him to a missile launching. He doesn't understand why everyone is excited, knowing that it will not save the planet or its people. As the missile takes off, his family, together with Batai's and Eline's spirit, explain that they are launching a probe so that someone in the future may find it and come to know of Kataan and its people, so that they may in some sense, live on and be remembered. Picard realizes that he is that someone, and the probe is the one that sent him to this planet some 30 years ago. He wakes up aboard the Enterprise where a mere 25 minutes have passed as he lived a lifetime.

Later, Riker brings Picard a box that is found inside the probe - it is Kamin's flute, the same one he played at his son's naming ceremony.

I have a lump in my throat just writing this and remembering the episode. This is why I love TNG, stories like this that speak so much about what it is to be human.

This episode was also very well-written and well-acted, one of the most moving Trek stories ever. Patrick Stewart should have won an Emmy for this. (But we know how award-giving bodies have always been stingy with sci-fi and fantasy shows, so it's no surprise that the only nomination this got was for make-up - which was quite outstanding too, btw.) One other thing that makes this story memorable is the music. I also get a lump in my throat whenever I hear the theme of this episode. Which, thanks to youtube, I can now share with you.

Below is a fan-made music video which features scenes from the episode (thanks to funfastonelover), and said theme composed especially for The Inner Light by Jay Chattaway. Now excuse me while I get some Kleenex.

(If the video above doesn't work for you, try this one.)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Here's to fancy flash players

I've been knocking my head on the wall for the past few nights trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. I've had good advice, a nice space to play around in (that is to say, yaminion webspace thanks to Laclos), and oh, hooray to shareware and open source codes! And of course I couldn't have gotten a complete I'm The Man mp3 without the help of my friend Berg (who did the splicing) and Anj (who provided the missing first few lines) (ey, fellas!). These took quite a few steps - audio extraction (from videos), audio editing, file conversion (with correct sampling rates, the debil!), code writing (more like code lifting, but with good guessing added), and uploading. And nope I'm certainly not a techie, I just went by what little I knew and understood. Everything else I did intuitively. (Until I hit dead ends, that's when I did research and consulted my personal gurus Laclos and Incidior of RoyalMisfits.)

Here's the result of my labors. Well, this is only a picture of the result of my labors, you have to click it to actually get to the flash player and use it. Check it out, it's nifty! ;-) Here's hoping I can post players here directly soon (might take another couple of nights of head banging, heh).

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Best Opening Credits Ever

At the time, I had thought Star Trek: Deep Space 9 had one of the most beautiful opening credits ever aired on television:

But right now, this one tops my list:

I'd write some more why BSG is also THE best sci-fi show right now, but I can't wait to get back to watching my season 2 dvds. ;-)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Elliott Yamin Reciprocates

Trinoma Mall, Quezon City, Philippines, September 21, 2007.

The seats were already starting to fill out at the Trinoma Activity Center when my friend Kai and I got there. The usher directed us to a section to the right of the stage and I joked that we would have a fine view of the huge speakers. Seriously though, from our seats at the 3rd row, the microphone stood at 10 o’ clock thereabouts. Pwede na rin (trans. It will do. *a bit grudgingly*), with only Elliott and his keyboardist Joonie in view. We wouldn’t get to see Russell (sorry Russell fans) or Aaron. I didn’t even realize the video display on stage until I saw pics taken by the audience in the other sections.

Promptly at 7 o’ clock, the show was announced. (Woah, Trinoma followed American, not Philippine time, I’m impressed. I had hoped I would have a little time to look for my fellow Yaminoys but I only got to see a few while I was looking for familiar screen names-matched-with-faces to give out my extra stubs to. Which I didn’t, btw, and I ended up giving them to a woman who held a child beyond the gates.) The band members came out first and took their position. From where I fidgeted, camera in hand, I could partially see a white-shirted guy wearing a baseball cap. Darn speakers. (Note that my eyesight isn't what it used to be. *sniff*) Could it – nah, it couldn’t, could it? The crowd was getting crazy, but not THAT crazy yet, so perhaps it isn’t Elliott? I quickly looked to the right, to the curtained area where they had come from, and I didn’t know it at the time but Kai told me later that before the band came out, someone had been holding a camera to the audience from there, apparently getting some video. Any true blue Elliott fan worth her salt knows now where I’m taking this, don’t cha? No? *quip* The hand that held the camera now came out along with the rest of Elliott Yamin, recording artist, Season 5 American Idol finalist #3 (3 equals 1, haven't you heard?). Elliott was wearing a grey t-shirt (courtesy of Bench & Ben Chan, who he said had given them lots of clothes), jeans, sneakers, and the E accessories du jour: grey vest and fedora. He also held a blue hand towel (also by Bench, probably?) aside from the camera.

Now I’m hazy on the details so forgive me if I don’t get clinical here. I’ve always found myself in the experience-the-moment-versus- record-it-to-experience-it-later dilemma. Which is to say, when I record any event I’m excited about, I almost always end up with huh, fairly nice photos or videos but a little bit removed from the experience, to be perfectly honest about it. I do reach a balance at certain times, but the important ingredient is time. An hour doesn’t cut it. But let’s not get into that, I knew I had no choice but to record because I want to give back to all those who have shared their memories with us at the Y-Pod. As expected the audience erupted in excitement and screamed as Elliott stood on stage. Loose curls held in check by fedora, Elliott thanked us and exclaimed that this was his first time abroad. He sang Movin’ On to open the show. Movin’ On by the way, is being marketed by several radio stations here as Elliott’s 2nd single (I’m not aware if that has been sorted out yet, or if that is really what Elliott’s team intends). It was an energetic rendition, with Elliott changing up the song like he always does, molding the melody this way and that, finally ending up with something that isn’t exactly the same as any Movin’ On he’s done these past few months. The same goes for all songs he sang. Elliott’s an artist, don’t you know it. At one point between songs, he picked up his camera and took a video of the crowd before him. Elliott had fiddled with it a couple of seconds and chuckled. He said he had just gotten the thing and didn’t know how to operate it. What a sight it must have been, with the 400 filled seats in the Activity Center and the hundreds of people standing beyond the gates and on all floors of the mall. (Don’t quote me though, it could easily have been a thousand. Or thousands? I’m no good at estimating crowd size. But take my word for it, there were lots of people there.)

Elliott also sang Find A Way, One Word, Trainwreck, Free, and In Love with You Forever. I had gleefully been able to record 3 or 4 full songs when I saw the indicator in the camera screaming limited space. Gah, so there it was, I had to choose which songs to keep and which to delete. And what about pictures? Ack I gave myself a mental kick in the bum for not bringing my own camera (I had my brother’s camera with me because it took better video and had longer zoom), as it took me nearly the whole length of In Love with You Forever to figure out how to turn on the flash (you just manually turn up the hood, I found out a litle bit later *sheesh that was stressful*). In any case, I decided that there was one song I ABSOLUTELY would NOT delete, and that song is Trainwreck. (That's me you hear complaining at the start of the video hee, my arms were getting sore already.)

Now it may be your turn to kick me, but I didn’t record *switches to radio announcer voice* the hit single, Wait For You! (No kidding though, that single is going places - and I mean chart topping places - kudos to Elliott’s team on picking it even when Elliott himself didn’t immediately like it.) Fellow Royal Misfits know this, I don’t think heaven and earth of the song, and I even slightly resented the Timberlaking or Neyo-ification of Elliott in the early days of its release. Let’s just say that now I don’t hate it, and have even learned to like it somewhat, and I DO get excited when I hear the song being played on the radio in public places (which happens quite a bit now, here in Manila!). So I don’t have a video of that. Which (here comes your revenge, those who have been kicking me) I kinda regret now, because the crowd response was insane. People sang along and screamed. Silly of me, I’m getting misty now from the memory. Elliott must have been so touched.

Elliott was being accompanied only by Joonie on keyboard at that point when he sang Wait For You, Russell and Aaron having already gone backstage. His last song was A Song For You. I didn’t record this either, not because I didn't like it, but because I wanted to experience it. I’m not very good at describing music, so suffice it to say that it was poignantly beautiful. I knew my fellow Yaminoys, long-time fans since Elliott’s AI days, must have felt the same way I did. Who knew we would be listening to this live? We had been promoting Elliott our darnedest best even before Season 5 ended, campaigning for his Philippine tour. It was long shot then, and we only half believed it ourselves, as we weren’t even sure Elliott would go beyond Top 7, 6 or 5. He got to no. 3 and we cried when he got booted off, and still we only half believed Elliott would ever set foot on Philippine soil. So understand what it was to listen to him sing, “I’ve acted out my life in stages, with ten thousand people watching, and we’re alone now, and I’m singing this song for you...”.

Elliott then announced the end of the show, and people began to shout “More! More! More!”. He laughed, tickled, and said that he didn’t have anyone to play for him now. (Juny had gotten up and left the stage already.) I shouted “A capella! A capella!” (and half seriously too), and then I don’t know the hegg what came over us, Kai joined in and we chanted “A-ca-pel-la! A-ca-pel-la!” (sorry seatmates! I was possessed! I had barely said anything all throughout the show anyhow, as I didn’t want to ruin the audio of our videos. Suppressing the squee must have caused this sudden outburst. Again my apologies!). So I sat half-stunned when he said he would sing anyway, a capella. Hah! And he’d sing something from the show. Aaaaaah Moody’s Mood for Love egad, I knew I erased that other video a moment ago for a divine reason! Ye gods, my intuition rarely fails me! (Except when it told me to delete the vid of Elliott taking a vid of us. *kicks self again*)

Elliott started off in the wrong key on the first try, so he tried it again. His voice was a wee bit strained by this time. It was apparent in the other songs too, but not as obviously as at this point. Boy must have been tired already. I knew it, they should have let him rest especially after all that recycled air from the 12-hour (or is it 16, I forget) Los Angeles-Manila flight. And what with all the interviews he had to do that day! But still, the audience appreciated him for the genuine talent that he truly is. That earnest boy we saw on the show, who joyfully and so stunningly performed Moody’s Mood in his adorable sweater vest and bad haircut, he’s still there. Changed perhaps in many many ways, but essentially the same person, still the same Elliott we came to know and love. This magnificent talent who just a few songs back, had nervously told us: “Mahal ko kayo.” (trans. I love you all.)

Huge thanks to Ms. Charisse Santos of the Ayala-Trinoma for making sure I got seat stubs.

(Check out the rest of my videos here.)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A vision of white sand

Images from Boracay Island, July 29 - August 1, 2007.

Check out my newly uploaded flickr album: Boracay sa gitna ng habagat.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Don't bite the foot that feeds you

Some distance away from Crocodile Island, we stopped at a designated snorkeling area. Kapitan demonstrated how fast the fishies come to feed with his foot. The 3-hour boatride (they call it an “island hopping” trip but in our case, we didn’t actually land on any other island apart from the one we came from) costed us Php 1,500 (which is alright since the regular rate for a 4-hour ride comes to about 2,500 during peak season). Immediately as we arrived at the snorkeling area, they asked us to pay Php 20 each as snorkeling fee. Marvel of marvels, who's the genius who decided to set a toll fee for parking in the open sea? We discussed and wondered later where the snorkeling revenues go. I figured it out: the money goes to the sweldo of the person collecting the snorkeling fee. *snort*

Anyhow, never mind about that. Get this: you snorkel snorkel, watch all kinds of beautiful, colorful sea life. It isn't actually as beautiful as it used to be because of the typhoon Sendang some time ago, Kapitan told us. Anyhow, you snorkel snorkel, you’re just under the surface of the water, yet you feel you’ve entered a different world. After some time you pull your head back for some air, and then you hear a voice say “Ice cream ma'am, pampaalis ng alat.” (trans. "Ice cream ma'am, to take away the salty taste [of the sea water].") Ngek. You’re told that the magtataho should come any minute now. If you prefer buko juice, there's also that other guy over there. So much for quiet island paradise. It felt like being in a parody of an island paradise. No no, don't get me wrong, this is not to say that one cannot enjoy oneself in Boracay. All I’m saying is that if you’re looking for a pristine, virgin island that is largely untouched by commercialism and development, then Boracay is no longer it.

Yeah I hear it hasn't been for some time now, but experiencing it for myself drove the point home. Several years ago when I first came, at Caticlan there was no port, no terminal fees or environmental fees, and hardly any porters. When we got to the island, we jumped out of the boat, into the water and felt the Boracay sand underneath our feet as we walked to the shore, backpacks in tow. The only place to buy souvenirs was the small talipapa which was razed by fire a few years later. We hadn't even been able to get a henna tattoo then because there were very few places one could get them and we didn't see any designs that we liked. Buying accessories meant asking a woman to string some beads right before you, something you actually design and agree on together. There was no d'talipapa, no d'market, certainly no d'mall or Budget (not!) Mart. Going out to the beach meant being able to get from your cottage to your chosen spot without being followed by locals inviting you to go island hopping, or by men and women offering to sell you pearls that you can buy at the Greenhills tiangge for roughly the same price. Ah, those were the days. So no, Boracay isn't what it used to be.

(But psst, I did hear about another white beach called Jumabo Island. It sounds promising.)

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The slideshow below? Really cool.

I mean the slideshow generator itself is cool, not necessarily my slideshow. I discovered just now that if you click on a photograph, it will show you the same captions I have in Flickr. But the pic is cut off to the side - that's my fault. I adjusted the slideshow frame size (original width was 500, I made it 400). Anyhoo, scroll down and check.

ETA. For those who want an even nicer, bigger slideshow, watch it in Flickr. Go to the album, click on "View as a slideshow", and when it begins, click on the "i" to see captions along with the pics.

I love Flickr.

Blogging in un-real time: Why aren't there enough hours in the daytime?

That's rhetorical, of course. Flashback to 2005. It's late fall in California. The setting sun always catches me off guard, even after being here several days already. There just isn't enough time to enjoy the afternoon, to have leisurely walks, take photographs, take one's time to bask in the daylight. The latter half of the day goes like this: We eat lunch, perhaps take a little rest, and then what do you know, the light is fading already.

Cut back to now. I've started to organize my California pics, these are what I have so far. This slideshow - different from the one I used a few entries back, lookee, it's automatic! - was produced with the Flickr Slideshow Generator, wonderful wonderful toy. If you point your cursor at the top of the black box below, you'll find some controls. If you point it at the lower bottom portion, a strip containing the pictures in the set will appear. Detailed captions and anecdotes can be found in my Flickr gallery (go to the California and Yosemite albums; or go to Tags > California).

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Of chedis, stupas and prangs *

Finally found the time to dig up and upload my photographs from Ayutthaya. Here's a sample.

Chedi from behind frangipani blooms.
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol, Ayutthaya. 2/08/2007

View the rest of the pics at my Flickr album.

From Bangkok we took a cab to Morchit station (aka North bus terminal, not to be mistaken for the Morchit MTR station. Note that "Morchit" is itself not written on the facade of the main terminal building.), and from there, the bus to Ayutthaya. The ride took about an hour. We then contracted a tuktuk driver to drive us around. We had intended to work our way from the farther wats to the center, but by the time we got to Wat Mahathat we were worn out already and it was time to catch the bus back to Bangkok. We had to get enough rest because we knew it would be a tough journey to Cambodia the following day.

1st class aircon bus ride: 100 baht
7-Eleven breakfast: 15-35 baht
Tuktuk ride to and from the wats: 440 baht
Simple but yummy lunch at a riverside restaurant: 460 baht
Admission fees to various wats: 20 - 30 baht
The sight of a line of elephants ambling towards the wats in the city center: Priceless
The heat: So intense it makes you breathless

* In temple architecture:

Chedi or stupa or pagoda. A generally bell-shaped tower that usually contains a relic of the Buddha, or the ashes of a king or important monk. The bell-shaped chedi evolved during the golden age of Ayutthaya.

Prang. An Ayutthayan or Khmer-style chedi that is high and slim and looks like a vertical ear corn. Some see the prang as a closed lotus bud, some as Siva's linga (phallus, a symbol of potency).

Friday, July 13, 2007

Yosemite reflections

Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space. -- Ansel Adams

El Capitan seen from Valley View, Yosemite.

Cathedral Rocks reflected on the Merced River, Valley View, Yosemite.

To view larger versions, go to my Flickr album (click "All sizes" to get to largest version). For a 360 degree panorama of Valley View (it's like being there!), go here.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Images from Angkor # 4

Indra sits atop his three-headed mount, the elephant Airavata.
Pediment detail, Banteay Srei. 2/12/2007

[View larger version.]

Banteay Srei, the "Citadel of Women", is one of the most intricately decorated temples in Angkor. It is widely considered as the "jewel of Khmer art". Unlike the others, it was built not by a monarch but by a courtier and scholar named Yajnavaraha who served the king as advisor and guru. The temple was dedicated in 967 A.D. to the Hindi god Shiva. The temple is not vast, but miniature in scale, and largely made of red sandstones.

A History of Elliott's First Hit has been sending this to subscribers via email.

I'm not a crazy fan of the song itself, I said that right when it was released, but I knew it had great appeal, and therefore, great radio potential. So I'm happy for its success all the same. Wait For You has been topping countdowns in such popular stations in the Philippines as Magic 89.9 and RX 93.1. In case you haven't heard the song, check it out here.

Elliott's album hasn't even been released here yet. It will be most probably, when Elliott visits in September, yay! Thank you Ayala! We Yaminoys have been campaigning for this since AI season 5. (Let's just forget that I heard you had actually been choosing between Elliott and season 6's Chris Richardson, bleh!). Elliott's schedule:

Sep 21, 8:00 pm Trinoma
Sep 22, 8:00 pm Glorietta
Sep 23, 8:00 pm Alabang Town Center
Sep 26, 8:00 pm Ayala Cebu
Sep 28, 8:00 pm Market! Market!

(One last aside: What, no concert? Just a mall tour? *sigh*)

Friday, June 29, 2007

Embedding a Pictobrowser slideshow

Testing this new gadget I found floating around the web...

Huh. Ok, kinda nice I guess. Changed the background because the original code indicated white, I thought it looked boring here. Eh, it cuts off some of the pics. I suppose that can't be fixed, unless I resize the photos in my Flickr album. Or hmm, maybe it's because I changed the display size.

By the way, you can get your own Pictobrowser slideshow by clicking on "Info" above. You'll be asked to enter your Flickr username and presto, you'll get the code.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Elliott Yamin: The Return to AI

What did I say last year, something like "Mark my words, Elliott will be big". A look at my archives for April 2006 shows that I had blogged about Elliott Yamin 3 times in a row. So no, I didn't like the guy. I loved him!

To make a long story shot, Elliott finished at #3, and I along with a lot of Yaminions from all over grieved for some time (yeah we were bat-shit crazy, as noted by fellow Yaminion Progressive), and then agonized about Elliott not getting a record deal etcetera etcetera.

A year later and voila! Elliott got the best deal possible out of all the AI contestants from his season - he went independent and struck a unique partnership deal with publisher Sony/ATV, which allows him to share copyright ownership of his material. Under this deal, they share 50-50 profit - not bad for an industry that is notorious for giving artists only 6-10%. Elliott's album was released in March 20 under a virtual label, Hickory Records. The Croshal Group was in charge of advertising and promotions.

Elliott Yamin (the album title) debuted in Billboard at #3. It has made, to date, the highest new artist debut on an independent label in Soundscan history. I could bombard you with a lot more figures and statistics, but I won't. Just trust me when I say that he's selling a whole lot more than anyone would have thought during his AI days.

Elliott performed his first official single, Wait For You on American Idol last night. And he made us all proud. See, what did I tell you?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Dog Whisperer

My friend Isa lent me The Dog Whisperer by Owens and Eckroate as I had been attempting to train Papa Suresh's pups. A couple of weeks ago I began teaching them to sit. Hiro has turned out to be the smartest and quickest of the lot. Momo, bless his tummy, is kinda clueless on the matter. What I did was pat the floor with my hand while I said "Sit [pup's name], sit!", and held a treat in my hand. Hiro got it right away. In fact, he understood it so well that he would just sit there and would not stand anymore, the smart aleck. Micah took quite a while but she got it during our second session that day. Momo? Entirely clueless. He'd look at me expectantly, and when I wouldn't give him a treat, he'd turn away. A few times he went way back behind the pups, tired, and began to sit. I'd go, "Aha! That will do, puede na `yan!" and proceed to give him his reward. (That's successive approximations for `ya!) It happened a few times - Momo got treats by accident, unintentionally. *sigh*

`Course all that was before I had read The Dog Whisperer chapter on sitting, which states that one should hold the treat over the dog's nose so that he tilts his head and looks up. This will make his back end go down, so presto, he's sitting! (It also said the word "Sit" should be introduced after the dog already knows how to do so.) I tried this trick the following week (I get to see the pups only on weekends), and like before, Hiro totally got it. Micah would sometimes stand on her hind legs (she loves doing that, such a show-off) but she knew that didn't earn her a crunchie. Momo? *sigh* Still getting her crunchies by chance. And I thought it would be easy to get him to rest on his behind, it being heavy and all. *sigh*

A couple of pics to remember our training session by (click to enlarge if you can't read the text):

Micah was unavailable for a photograph. She was probably somewhere burying her secret stash - which consists of stuff that aren't always edible, silly girl.