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Sarcasm Aside

random thoughts of a self-diagnosed neurotic with the attention span of a five-year old... a blog by Alternati


Monday, February 26, 2007

Tis the season of flowers. Tis the season when my fair city is teeming with bonnet wearing lowlanders. Tis the season of water shortage. Tis the season of taxi shortage. Tis the season of traffic. Tis Panagbenga.

Panagbenga is an indigenous word for "a season for blossoming". To anyone who speaks Filipino, pagbunga is a close mnemonic. This is the Eleventh (not so sure) celebration of the Baguio Flower Festival.

I slept mostly through the parades of the festival this year (Ain't I a model citizen?) held yesterday and the day before. The whole hassle of elbowing through a crowd, standing for hours on end, just to get a bare glimpse of the dancing headdresses of participants just wasn't enticing this year. Been there, done that.

The first time we organized an entry for the Street Dancing Competition was in 2000. We were in college, and as if school work wasn't hectic enough, an idea out of somewhere blazed into a communal passion to make something worthwhile. Being true to our natures as T-square wielding egotists, we went with a Caryatid theme. I was rummaging through my files for a whole hour before I started this entry and I couldn't find a single digital picture/scan of our entry that year (Batchmates, I need your negatives, posthaste!) Here's the best I can do...

That was taken (too lazy to scan) from our Batchbook. Caryatids are load bearing statues that carry pendentives, roofs, etc. and were evident in Greek Architecture. Form and Function... A basic premise of Architecture. We used up gallons of latex paint... yes! Latex Paint ON our skin. AND we had to walk under the sun for the length of about 15 (sloping) city blocks. Latex paint turned out to be an excellent exfoliant... It can scrape off three layers of skin! Who needs salon chemical peels, right? A gallon of paint costs way cheaper.

We didn't win (Boo-freakin-hoo), But we did get a lot of media buzz and spectators went gaga over us... (Our short lived careers as white British Royal Guards). I still kept this article written by Leonora Paraan-San Agustin:
Panagbenga: It's Getting Better All The Time
... The SLU-College of Architecture's Caryatids was the "spectacle of the parade". Imagine presenting in flesh instead of marble columns the priestesses of the Temple Diana - goddess of the moon and the hunt - carrying the pendentives of the temple in Karyai, Macedonia of the ancient times. This "palabas" of the parade - starkly white, slow disciplined steps, no facial movements - with mythology as the fountainhead of the marble simulation. It is a triumph of thoughtful planning, faithful reproduction of details and cooperative execution. How often do we get these things together in a project like they did? My compliments to the students and faculty of the St. Louis University College of Architecture, who may not have won the first prize but presented a beautiful spectacle...
She goes on to say that one of the judges said that we lacked choreography and flowers. The judge hasn't heard that "less is more"... your run of the mill douchebag.

A year later, in 2001, we reentered with a vengeance. Not to toot our own horns, but we were pioneers. Almost everyone that year started using body paint. To appease the tasteless judges the year before, we used flowers and choreography ad nauseum.

We won. Whoop-dee-freakin-doo!

2003. We entered for the third and final time just for the heck of it. The theme was inspired by Venetian masks and the Brazilian Carnival.

This is Mina, a close friend of mine. She was our face paint "guinea pig". Painting 30 girls' faces was no easy feat. It may not be noticeable from a distance, but knowing how good they look up close makes up for the hours of preparation.

The girls are such troopers. They had non-wind resistant headdresses that made them act like vertical wind vanes and they weigh a ton! (the headdresses, not the girls), they had to do lifts and formations, they had irritating everlasting flowers close to their skin, and they all did this with smiles (usually genuine) on their faces.

We won.

Last year, I was a judge on the Float Competition. A small scale contest similar to the Pasadena Rose Parade. The floats have improved a lot over the years. There were fewer entries that obviously show the outline of the vehicle used. There were more entries that used more creative uses of flowers and what nots. That year, we chose this float as the winner.

And so I've been there and I've done that. I was more eager this year to watch the Oscars than I was to watch the parades.

Happy Panagbenga all (current and former) Baguio residents, and lovers of my city.

Session Road is closed til Sunday. Joy!

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

I've been on an enamel paint induced high for the past days. True to the nature of most guppies and friends of Dorothy, I redecorated my room. Goodbye to the butter yellow walls, Au revoir to the familiar specks on my ceiling, and Auf Wiedersehen to the utter lack of closet space.

It all began with the installation of new closets in my room. The light oak wood stain didn't create enough contrast with the yellow walls, the wood stain brush strokes trespassed on my used to be white ceiling and there were hideous Pollockish drops of primer on the floor. I was opening a gallon of white paint and tinters as soon as the carpenters said arrivederci.

Now why would a delicate being as myself paint my own walls? It's a lesson on self empowerment. I've painted with water colors and oils in college, painting on a wall can't be that much different from painting on 11 x 17 art paper...

I was sadly mistaken.

A simple flick of a water color brush creates a distant plateau on a piece of paper, a flick of paint ain't worth shite on a wall, which coincidentally seems a whole lot larger when you use a 2 inch brush. It involves concentration and cardiovascular activity... both are no forte of mine. Imagine balancing on top of a stool AND trying desperately to control your aching arm to paint not only evenly but also making sure you don't encroach on a surface with a different color, all the while wishing you were smoking a Marlboro light because the toxic paint fumes are creeping slowly toward your brain. I ain't no Diego Rivera and I have no aspiration of being one... Painting a wall with just one flat color is hard enough, I'd be out of my head if I ever considered undertaking a Guernica.

I wonder how many ibuprofens Michaelangelo downed every hour while he painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
Stiffneck: check
Back pains: check
Drops of paint on face: check
Paint on hair: check
Overall longing for horizontality: check

The paint roller is by far the best human invention! I love it to bits! (If you love it so much, why don't you marry it...)

The ceiling is so pristine white, it's almost virginal. And the walls dried into an awesome vibrant teal color.

I was actually aiming for a different green...

One inspired by one of my fave books by one of my fave authors. The slight error in paint mixing was an unforseen stroke of luck. It works well with the light my room gets during the day time.

There's no high like a paint high. Nope... not the toxic fumes dummy... but the overall king-of-the-world feeling of accomplishment, and a revitalized room to boot. Whoever associated ennui with "watching paint dry" was extremely uninformed.

Ty Pennington... call me.

(Endorphin Rush... Gawd! Is anybody else psyched about The Amazing Race Allstars? I've always loved Boston Rob and Amber from the Survivor series all through their 2nd place finish on TAR. AND the premier of CSI Season 10 AND American Idol Top 24 AND Project Runway 3 AND Heroes Episode 16, although I must say the cliffhanger was a lot like Lost's Ana-Lucia shoots Shannon episode? I intentionally placed this post script in parentheses cause I myself am frightened by how TV obsessed I am)

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Save the Cheerleader, Save the World

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Do you:
  1. Watch too much TV?
  2. Like every single Marvel character Stan Lee created?
  3. Love comics and comic book art?
  4. Like how they "humanized" Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins?
  5. Find Milo Ventimiglia's crooked smile sexy?
  6. Think Ali Larter is hot?
You'd probably love this show to the very core of your being:

Heroes takes the formula used in recent Spiderman movies and perfected in Batman Begins... superheroes as relatable people sans yellow tights and "Holy haberdashery, Batman!" catch phrases.

If there is one thing I hate about living in the third world... It's TV show retardation.
The Simpsons - four seasons late
Lost - one season late
Grey's Anatomy - one season late
Project Runway - one season late
Veronica Mars - one season late
Ugly Betty (aka the American Betty La Fea) - still unaired
Heroes - still unaired, although the influx of excellent reviews in the www and the raves of my friends abroad, and some blogger pals (kat) who are fans of the show made me wanna watch it months before normal delayed telecasts.

This is the reason why us hardcore couch potatoes are thankful for the following things:
DBDs (B as in bootleg)
Shareaza (a recent discovery of mine)

[end of actual post, nothing (but geekiness) follows]

Please turn back now if you find geeks appalling.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

NBC sums the show up as "an epic drama that chronicles the lives of ordinary people who discover they possess extraordinary abilities." Heroes features an ethnically diverse cast similar to Lost whose characters are/will be interconnected... and also like Lost, the show thrives on cliffhangers AND eye candy for the boyses and the girlses. The early episodes of the show where the numerous characters are discovering and mastering their talents is reminiscent of Smallville. [Spoiler Alert]

The Heroes

(from left to right)

Matt Parkman, The Policeman, Los Angeles
Think of him as a pudgier Jean Grey without the red hair and the love triangle with Cyclops and Wolverine (Ability: telepathy)
Humanized: Feelings of inadequacy, a rocky marriage
The Actor: Greg Grunberg, one of the most charismatic actors (always with supporting roles) I know and adore. He was in Felicity and Alias.

Hiro Nakamura, The Comic Relief, Tokyo
Think of him as a cuter, anime-ish Mother Askani or Fitzroy (Ability: time travel, teleportation)
Humanized: wide-eyed naivete, language barriers
The Actor: Masi Oka, you've probably seen him in Austin Powers in Goldmember as the japanese tourist who delivered the Godzilla copyright line. I don't think I've ever seen a japanese actor with a main role in any American TV show yet... It's refreshing. And, he also worked as a CGI artist before acting.

Claire Bennet, The Cheerleader who must be saved, Texas
Think of her as a blonde female Wolverine without the hairy chest and adamantium claws (Ability: regeneration)
Humanized: An adopted daughter, struggling with teenhood (acne, schoolwork and cliques are bad enough... try adding invinsibility to the mix)
The Actress: Hayden Panettiere was adorable in Remember the Titans and as the long lost donated egg/ daughter of Ally Mcbeal.

Peter Petrelli, The Dreamer, NYC
Think of him as a less volatile Rogue with the sexiest crooked smile. (Ability: Power Mimicry)
Humanized: Door mat tendencies, being "the other brother"
The Actor: Milo Ventimigla (I just love how his name is uttered) was in Gilmore Girls and was Rocky Balboa, Jr. (Never saw a Rocky movie after the first one)

Nathan Petrelli, The Politician, NYC
Think of him as Superman without the cape and the physical super strength, but with a mafia money run political campaign. (Ability: Flight)
Humanized: Guilt for his wife's permanent attachment to a wheelchair, extra-marital affairs
The Actor: Adrian Pasdar was in Top Gun (never saw it) and he has such a picture perfect smile... it must be special effects.

Mohinder Suresh, The Geneticist, India
Think of him as a non-bald, non-handicapped, non-telepathic Professor X (Ability: None)
Well he does have the ability to track the "heroes" with an algorithm his deceased father invented.
The Actor: Sendhil Ramamurthy has such a pristine voice, every enunciated syllable resonating.

Niki Sanders (aka Jessica), The Modern Mom, Las Vegas
Think of her as a blonde, non-green female Incredible Hulk. (Ability: Superhuman Strength)
Humanized: Split personality disorder ala Dr. Jekyl and Mr Hide, making ends meet, a missing husband, a son
The Actress: Who could forget Ali Larter in the first two gory Final Destination movies?

Micah Sanders, The Kid Genius, Las Vegas
Think of him as a pint-sized... (insert appropriate X-men hear) say Cable (barely) with the most adorable curly hair. (Ability: Technopathy, e.g. he can withdraw cash from an ATM by merely touching it)
Humanized: having his mom, Niki, arrested for murder and framing his father, D.L. (talk about a rocky childhood)
The Actor: Noah Gray-Cabey is an actual genius, he started playing the piano when he was eighteen months old (Gawd, I was barely able to do Integral Calculus at that age)

D.L. Hawkins, The Fugitive, Las Vegas
Think of him as a bald Kitty Pride/ Shadowcat. (Ability: Phasing, he can walk through one foot thick walled jail cells)
Humanized: see his wife, Niki, and son, Micah.
The Actor: Leonard Roberts, he had a season long role as a member of the Initiative in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Isaac Mendez, The Painter, NYC
Think of him as a hot latino version of the Oracle (The Matrix) who eyes go pupil-less ala Storm when he invokes his powers. (Ability: Animal magnetism, rawr!... errr... Precognition)
Humanized: heroin addiction, artistic passion
The Actor: Santiago Cabrera is a middle child... We're so MFEO, don't you think?

Simone Deveaux, The Lucky Girl who gets to make out with both Peter AND Isaac, NYC
(Ability: None) nuf said.

Of course, there's still HRG (Horn-Rimmed Glasses) aka Mr. Bennet and his sidekick, The Haitian. And numerous other characters (which could have made this post go on and on and on...)

If you read this post, Congratulations! You've successfully seen me transformed from this:

to this:

An excellent achievement (insert forced smile) Woo Hoo!

Perhaps Comic Book Guy is my Jessica Sanders? Gawd, I hope not... he has receding hair.

Speaking of The Simpsons Characters, here's a classic from the extremely uninformed Chief Wiggum:

"Some Chinese people claimed they were celebrating New Year's... in February!!! ... good food though"

Happy Chinese New Year Everyone! Hope the Fire Pig brings everyone good health and success.

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14 13 Cardio Songs

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

What's the second most depressing day (after Christmas) humanity has ever concocted? Your next twenty faux birthday (add decades as necessary) Mine is still months away... but the idea of adding another candle on the cake just makes me wanna spontaneously combust.
I love Valentine's (That just sounds awfully redundant) Sure, there's the obvious cheesiness, the influx of cookie-cutter red hearts and cupids on every possible vertical surface, the unabashed juvenile expressions of unfounded eternal love and the hard-to-escape, sickening scent of phoniness in the air... BUT what other holiday (or semblance of a holiday) lets you overindulge in the greatest, most important and revolutionary human invention of all time? sweet, sweet chocolate. You gotta love the Mayans and Aztecs for cultivating it... I am willing to overlook the fear inducing notion of Apocalypto and the human sacrifices.

It's gonna go straight to my thighs.

Let's pretend I'm Hiro Nakamura (Heroes, NBC... Yey! I've finally caught up with the TV watching audience of the west) I have the uncanny ability of moving through space and time:

(Insert sound of thunder to convey the actual moment of teleportation)

13 Cardio Songs

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

My phoniness/ BS meter will be ringing like crazy tomorrow. I've seen a couple of teens holding long stemmed roses this morning and it seems an outbreak of heart-shaped red cartolinas has hit the metro... Valentine's is upon us. I'm afraid to tune in to the radio for fear I'll hear some cheesy Barry Manilowish song... It took me 6 electro-shock therapy sessions to get these types of songs out of my brain.

The second thirteen of the year... I almost wasn't able to make this post. (I've been so friggin busy!!! It's not even funny any more)

13 Songs With Heart in the Title that I Heart... (aka... If I put "Achy Breaky Heart on this list, I'll pull the trigger myself")

1. Heart Shaped Box - Nirvana, In Utero (1993)

"Throw down your umbilical noose, so I can climb back"
Kurt Cobain is a genius. He wrote Heart Shaped Box in five minutes... inside a closet. The song is said to be about female genitalia (see: Sexual Personae, Paglia), but like all great songs, it speaks on many other levels. Courtney Love (Hole), his wife, courted Cobain with a heart-shaped box. The same heart shaped box is now in Love's possession holding Cobain's suicide letter and a lock of his hair.

2. Piece of my Heart - Janis Joplin, Cheap Thrills (1968)
"Break another little bit of my heart now, darling"
Originally done by Erma Franklin, Aretha's younger sister, it was covered by Big Brother & the Holding Company... one of Janis Joplin's early bands. Joplin sang this song at Woodstuck in 1969. Like many great artists, she died at a young age, 27, OD-ing on heroin.

3. Total Eclipse of the Heart - Bonnie Tyler, Faster than the Speed of Night (1983)
"I don't know what to do and I'm always in the dark, We're living in a powder keg and giving off sparks"
I know this ranks high on the cheesiness level. But I love it. Tyler's surgery induced raspy voice, the Bohemian Rhapsodyish feel of the song, the "turn around bright eyes" back-up vocals... This was tailor made for drunken karaoke. The song was supposedly inspired by Bronte's Wuthering Heights. Max Weinberg of Late Night with Conan O' Brien played drums on this track.

4. Heart of Glass - Blondie, Parallel Lines (1978)
"Once I had a love and it was divine, Soon found out I was losing my mind"
All hail Debbie Harry, the badass blonde chick that defined new wave chic. This song sounds a little different from the normal punk rock Blondie songs like "Call Me" or "One Way or Another", they infused elements of disco, the polar opposite of new wave during that time, to create a fusion that infuriated many of their fans. They call it "the disco song". I love all songs with synthesizers written before 1986.

5. Listen to your Heart - Roxette, Look Sharp! (1988)
"I know there's something in the wake of your smile. I get a notion when I look in your eyes"
Gotta love this Swedish duo especially the androgynous Marie Fredriksson. This ranks as one of my fave break-up (or anti-break-up) songs. I wonder if stethoscope med reps ever thought of using this as a campaign jingle... it's perfect, no?

6. Kickin my Heart Around - The Black Crowes, By Your Side (1999)
"Just come out and say it, spit the words out of your mouth. It needs no explaining, cuz we both felt it go south"
One of my fave American bands of all time mostly because of Chris Robinson's awesome voice. For younger readers who haven't heard of him, he is Kate Hudson's ex-husband and... Gavin deGraw sounds a lot like him. They have a soul-y bluesy sound that just makes you wanna sing along to their music (to the best of your ability) Listen to "Remedy" and "She Talks to Angels". This particular track "Kickin..." has some funky "hu, hu, hu, hu" back-up vocals in the bridge reminiscent of Tina Turner's cover of the Creedence Clearwater Revival song "Proud Mary". I can't wait for the release of their supposed 2007 album.

7. Young Hearts Run Free - Candi Station (1976)
"Love only breaks up, to start over again. You'll get the babies, but you won't have your man"
If the intro of this song doesn't give you the urge to jive ala Night Fever, you ain't got a disco bone in your body. I just love songs, like this, that combine perky melodies with depressing lyrics.

8. Just Take My Heart - Mr. Big, Lean Into It (1991)
"It's late at night and neither one of us is sleeping, I can't imagine my life after you're gone"
Between the cheesy lyrics, the catchy chorus and the guitar shredding, this is another awesome break-up song... comes off a little suicidal/ end-of-the-world-ish, but we've all been there. The name worked oh so well on Chris Noth in Sex and the City, but I must say it's one of the worst band names to date... I still have no idea why they named their band as such (I wonder if the reason is phallic)

9. Alone - Heart, Bad Animals (1987)
"Til now, I always got by on my own, I never really cared until I met you"
This is my definition of a power ballad. Ann Wilson can sing the hell out of this song, and she can play the flute too! The general feel of the song is stiff and cold until Ann reaches the first part of the chorus. It's hard to believe a woman with such a powerful voice suffered from a stutter when she was a girl. (Ok, so "heart" doesn't really appear on the song's name... but what's a heart song list without Heart?)

10. Groove is in the Heart - Deee Lite, World Clique (1990)
"My supperdish, my succotash wish (Sing it Baby) I couldn't ask for another"
Whenever I hear this awesome song, I always get the feeling Austin Powers or Andy Warhol will appear out nowhere to dance. It's groovy baby. Three DJs make up the band headed by vocalist and psychedelic fashion extraordinaire, Lady Miss Kier.

11. Foolish Heart - Steve Perry, Street Talk (1984)
"But will my heart play the part of the fool again, before I begin.."
This came off Perry's first album after he left Journey.
Cornball undertones - check
Talking to inanimate objects - check
Perfect post break-up, entering into a new relationship song.

12. Victim of a Foolish Heart - Joss Stone, The Soul Sessions (2003)
"Now she's back to rekindle that old flame, she's got a different angle, baby... but she's playing the same old game" Gawd, this white girl can sing! I instantly fell in love with her music after I heard the joyous Super Duper Love. She is very Bohemian, almost always singing barefoot in performances and she's a vegan too.

13. Heal me, I'm Heartsick - No Vacancy, School of Rock OST (2003)
"Father, free me. Mama, woman, feed me"
No Vacancy is the fictional band of Adam Pascal in the movie. Adam played Roger in Rent: The Movie. He has a stellar voice. School of Rock is a great movie. Directed by one of my fave directors, Richard Linklater... starring two great comedians, Jack Black and Joan Cusack... a loose Sister Act storyline infused with The Ramones and guitar solos... The first known movie where Led Zeppelin allowed one of their songs to be included in a soundtrack (after a petition spearheaded by Black and Linklater)... What's not to like?

If you want mp3s of any of these songs, just e-mail me at:


My Valentine's to anyone.

I wonder how can I teleport back to the fourteenth... It's not written in the Hiro Nakamura manual. hmmm...

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The Sun gods are Coercing Me to Diurnalism

Saturday, February 03, 2007

1 week ago

I awake to the sound of xylophones. I detest xylophones. The ringing sound it makes when hit by those gavels with orb heads irks me. Plus, the resonating metallic sound stays in the air way longer than you want them to, like visiting distant relatives (aka strangers you have blood relations with). A couple of gradeschool girls living in the apartment below me decided to spend their Saturday practicing the Panagbenga (Baguio Festival celebrating the blooming of flowers) theme. And they decided to do it within an earshot of my window. Fabulous! Nothing like waking up to a perky tune provoking images of chrysanthemums and butterflies! Joy! Glockenspiel! Heilige Scheisse!!!

I never really got why these handheld xylophones are called lyres (ala a Drum and Lyre band in parades) A real lyre is strummed not hit with mallets, it looks likes this:


(Apollo is the god of archers and light. He became the Greek god of the sun when he became more popular than Helios)

4 days ago

I awake to my mom's hollering. My mom doesn't yell... she hollers. She woke me up because the carpenter who would be installing new cabinets in my room arrived (sooner than I anticipated) I had to drag my sorry underslept ass out of bed to explain the work he'd be doing in my room. I can barely read the dimensions on the drawing I made the night before let alone utter an intelligible statement, but I got the idea across (I think)

In Babylonian mythology, Nin-ildu is the carpenter god, and as fate would have it... he carries the pure axe of the sun. He is a servitor to Shamash, the Babylonian sun god.



I awake to car horns. I presume its a tourist. No Baguio resident would honk their horn that loudly at 7 in the morning... for fear of excommunication. The Loakan Road is relatively distant from my window, a smoke chugging Philex Peterbelt wouldn't disturb me from my slumber. But on that particular morning, the incessant honking shook me to waking life. The rowdy passengers made it clear there was no apparent emergency.

This will be quite a long connection to a sun deity. Here it goes. Peregrinus in Latin means foreigner/ tourist. A peregrine falcon is named as such because of it's habit of migration and it is one of the fastest creatures on earth. (Speed and foreignness) The Egyptian sun god Ra is often depicted as having the head of a Falcon.


I wonder what the other sun deities have in store for me.
Sol (Norse sun goddess)
Amaterasu (Japanese sun goddess)
Surya (chief Hindu sun deity)
Huitzilopochtli (Aztec sun god)


These attempts at rousing me early only succeeded in making me wake up even later. I just doze off right after I wake up. I am a snoozer.

However, the sun gods seem to be plotting something with the moon gods. Last night we had a scheduled city-wide power outage from 10 pm to 6 am. I didn't wanna lose my eye sight reading Faulkner over candlelight and it was too cold outside to even entertain the idea of a night out in some generator-powered bar. So, the nocturnal deities, coerced me into sleeping early... I was sawing logs before midnight. The whole of Baguio will have the same scheduled power outage again tonight. I guess if they can't wake me up early... they chose plan B, which is to make me sleep early. They can't possibly schedule a black-out every single night... right?

The electricity will be out in 3... 2... 1... *bleep*

The black out didn't happen Satturday night. I guess my offering of first-borns pleased the gods (or BENECO at least) :P

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