Monday, 30 September 2013

about the one who knocks

It is an end of an era.  Sunday evenings will never be the same again.  Chris Hardwick will still grace the 10pm AMC slot, this time talking about the zombie apocalypse, but even he is hurting and going through Breaking Bad withdrawal when I caught him making a couple of Heisenberg references in a panel discussion about Walking Dead.

I was late to the party.  My sister begged me back in June to watch the premiere episode and let me decide based on that alone to commit to the show.  I binge watched 4 and a half seasons until the last available ep where Hank sits in the toilet holding Whitman’s Leaves of Grass reading Gale’s note to Walter White.

My knowledge of film and television critique is limited to classes I took in university (I studied Film) and countless of hours spent watching tv and movies… Breaking Bad undoubtedly is the best show on television.  It is.

There is not a weak link to be found in any part of this series. The writing, directing, editing, music, acting, cinematography, my God the cinematography!… I could go on and on. Creator and perfect Southern gentleman Vince Gilligan had such a unique vision for Breaking Bad, and it is exemplified throughout the show.  Each character evolution is magnificently written, creating a sense of tension which is escalated by the superb acting that each cast member brings to the table.

Every season delivers gut punching moments aided by Bryan Cranston’s masterful and dazzling portrayal of Walter White brilliantly morphing into the monstrous Heisenberg.  For every sympathetic moment, every time Walt saves Jesse, defends Hank or plays the benign paterfamilias, there is a moment of monstrosity.  Heisenberg’s tentacles keep unfurling, and we end up torn between the ordinary downtrodden man we first met and the drug kingpin sociopath we now know.

The brilliance that Gilligan delivers is our constant astonishment as to why we, as viewers, find deep in our hearts, that we still root for Walter White.  Throughout the entire series, he insists to his now chain smoking wife that he did it all in the name of family.  And we believe him.  Damnit.  (I wonder though if the show had been written from Jesse's point of view..would we still feel the same way for Mr. White?)

One of the most gut wrenching scenes in the Felina episode (series ender) shows Walt finally admitting to Skylar, 
“I did it for me...... And I was really-- I was alive."  
It is the line where he finally redeems himself and where Gilligan acknowledges that this story is not just about a chemistry teacher’s voyage into crystal meth production.  It’s a story of a man and his kick-ass midlife crisis. 

Apart from numerous technical and artistic awards, Breaking Bad has earned plaudits for its “uncannily accurate” depiction of the meth trade.  I don’t know if the local drug syndicates employ gifted chemists and crystallographers to manufacture their product, but scientific aptitude is the last thing one associates with meth-heads.  Toothlessness and bizarre behavior, yes, though they sometimes can be talented musical prodigies like Skinny Pete and Badger.  Oh wait.  They’re not real people. Ack!

Oh Saul, I will miss you the most.  

say his name.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Am here! Am here!

I'm still alive and walking around this lovely planet. I apologize for being inactive and indolent when it comes to updating this blog. Once this crazy week is over (busiest for me cake-wise), your emails will be bombarded once again with posts from little 'ol me.

Thanks @ronanjanetti for the poke. No, I'm not dead. Don't unsubscribe just yet. Me needs your numbers! ;-p


Thursday, 25 April 2013

throwback thursday #01

The good old 70's... when the Philippines was under Martial Law
and photographs taken with actual film looked like filtered digital Instagram photos.
My older sister looks so adorably cute (she's always been the prettier one
as you can see), and I, as with almost all photos up to this day, look drunk.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

flip & hebe

I am re-posting a birthday treat from my long-time buddy and my spirit animal, Benny, whose most evident trait I  recently discovered, is that of a liar:

by benny

Bebsy is this beautiful chick I met during my formative years living in Manila.  It’s not what you think.  She is an old buddy who remains constant in my life tho we live in different cities, different countries.  We have this unorthodox kinship, as she provides me every now and then bits of wisdom (she’s 3 years older therefore she thinks she’s some Jedi Master) and entertainment with hilarious anecdotes of her sit-com of a life. 

I quoted her many twisted and perverse views on social issues, and re-posted her own warped versions of world history which in my estimation has received the most number of comments on my blog. 

In the middle of our recent discussion about the ongoing case of Oscar Pistorius, Bebsy designated me as key eulogy speaker at her funeral service.  (She has this habit of jumping from one topic to another mid-conversation, saying something completely off topic sans warning nor smooth transition,  expecting you to keep up and respond.)

Mean, wicked people, for the most part, live long evil lives, unless of course you’re Hitler or Osama Bin Laden.  Although Bebsy believes 45 is when she kicks the bucket, considering the true nature of the way her bizarre evil mind works and the hedonistic life she led in her mid to late 20s (to which I have been a witness of) this woman will outlive us all. 

I am going off the cuff today and dedicate an entire blog post to Bebsy, my emblematic life travelling companion, and show you, my readers, how our pure platonic and almost dysfunctional relationship, that is of a heterosexual male and a heterosexual half-female (a part of her brain is all-dude) works.   I mean, I do adore her and all, but it’s not something I tell her cos she gets all emotional and shit.

See, it’s her birthday today. I will try to be non-revealing and eulogize my buddy, one who I believe is the lovechild produced from of an orgy amongst Naomi Campbell (her mouth!), Larry David  and Sylvia Plath with Lena Dunham watching on the sideline.

1.     In our younger years, Bebsy and I had a dream of getting our own travel show aptly called Flip & Hebe (Filipino and Hebrew).  Genius, right? Picture Lonely Planet’s Ian Wright as a duo.   Somewhere in my apartment is a notebook detailing episodes of lost cities & cultures we’d visit and document.  We would have killed.  It was a bloody brilliant concept.  It is important that this is the first thing I mention in my eulogy.  Her death notwithstanding, I have not given up on that dream.

2.    Bebsy and I met at a bar owned by her first boyfriend.  My buddies and I frequented that bar, located near the International School where I had worked.  She would come in to occasionally hang out or help wait tables.
She never gives this historical fact to anyone.  She’s long obliterated the memory of that Ex and she thinks that giving the story that we met at a bar makes her cheap and desperate.  (her views always are off base)

My buddy Alejandro pined for her longingly.  Like most regulars at the bar, he was a foreigner. A native Honduran living in Manila.  After 3 shots of whisky he would romanticize Bebsy’s exotic beauty and hounded her to no end to run away with him to Lisbon and raise a family.  She shone in the tender light of his gruff adoration, but she always responded with a funny comeback.  She never took him seriously, never thought of herself as the beautiful and sensuous woman Alejandro saw her for.  Unbeknownst to her, she was his first love.  She broke the poor guy's heart.  It’s my all-time favorite memory of Ironmike's.

3.     On top of our travel show, a mutual love for the same music and mutual hatred for the same politicos, Bebsy and I bonded over books.  We shared a collection of Maugham, Camus and Salinger.  We both identified with Holden Caulfield and upped one another with Catcher in the Rye quotes.  Man, we sounded like pretentious assholes.

When she broke up with the Ex, she wrote me a beautifully written account of the bitter break-up.  I couldn't care less what happened, but through that email I discovered her flair for writing.  In my otherwise drab life that year I got excited.  Like a parent who suddenly discovers that his child has an innate ability to fly.  Not quite, but close.  

I continue to encourage her to write.  I made her set up a blog.  What is penned on extra rice, please does not even scratch the surface of her gift.  She is just too lazy to write and hone her craft. (Genius of a blog title, I may add, because it was MY idea; it's her perennial request over a Filipino meal.)

Our friendship flourished because of many hours talking about existential and absurdist bullshit over mojitos, exotic meals and many email exchanges over the years;  some were filled with great life secrets and regrets, most of the time with profanity-induced nonsense.  She is honest and raw with the written word.  You see her true self when she speaks through her pen.  

4.     Bebsy’s potentially intimidating confidence, (one part Zen-stillness, another part her large, bored-looking, judgemental eyes) is undercut by her warm sweet sincere smile, a discrepancy that can be disconcerting.

She looks like an evil bitch at first glance.  It’s her height not very common for Filipinos, that protruding mouth, her face that looks like she’s criticizing you and letting you know she’d rather be some place else, when all she’s doing really is recalling what she ate for breakfast that’s making her stomach upset. 

The secret to her social success is that she’s genuinely interested – not in all subjects, but certainly in all people.  She enjoys listening to people’s stories, always asking questions without false enthusiasm and nosiness.  She finds valuable lessons in people's experiences.  She does not fake it.  That’s how charming she can be and why people generally get smitten with her. 

My girlfriend Holly was initially not impressed with Bebsy when I’d talk about my life in Manila.  “I don’t trust that one.  She’s up to no good.” 
Ten minutes into their first meeting, the 2 were deconstructing ‘Talented Mr. Ripley’ and cackling in laughter while sharing travel experiences to Sorrento, Italy.  Holly understands my connection with Bebsy, and until most recently actually appreciates it.

5.     In a social setting, I always have a looming dark cloud over my head and Bebsy is little miss sunshine personified.  I am the freak at a party, finding solace in the corner and people watching with my warm beer.  She was my social crutch and my secret weapon to a lot of party obligations in the 90’s.  I can never articulate her brand of humour.  It's dark, self-deprecating most of the time, affiliative yet aggressive especially around close friends.   She finds comedy in any situation, and I have to honestly say, that is one of her greatest traits. 

I am astounded with the infinite supply of trivial information she keeps in her head.  It's annoying.  She has vast knowledge of films, books, music, theatre, history and different cultures that it makes me thrilled when she has the occasional mental blackout.   She speaks in movie quotes and bursts into song even at the most inappropriate times.

6.     Ironically, when she's affectionate towards someone, she could be mean-spirited, overly critical and potty-mouthed.   This is her tender self to her treasured lot: people whom she holds dear in her life, those she lovingly calls Ass, Nerd, Douche, Idiot and Bastard; the very few people who understand her bordering-on-psycho yet comical way of showing how she cares and loves.

With our little group of 2, she monopolizes conversations.  I give her a story of my terrible bout with stomach flu, she would cut me off and text a photo of a spot on her neck.  
“Im glad you’re better.  But check out that mole.  You think it’s cancerous?”
I give slightly more of a free pass to her, since she is constantly surrounded with loud, demanding people in her life, seeking her attention and service 24/7.  

On the phone I listen to her complain or talk about whatever mundane issue she needs to get off her chest, compelling me to robotically say “Uh-huh” or “no kidding” while focusing intently on a game on tv.  
On video chat,  as I seek her advise about a fight with Holly, she gazes at me with the most sympathetic look of concern, meanwhile off camera, she’s texting a friend about a recent episode of Dexter or Breaking Bad.
That’s how we roll. We are aware how we bullshit each other with our listening skills, but the fact is, a simple nod or "uh-huh" is enough for us both.

7.     At the risk of sounding like a wuss, Bebsy scares me when she’s angry.  She is quiet. She is never confrontational.  She gets intensely mad when she feels abused and disrespected and when this happens, she walks away.  Disappears.  A massive character flaw, I'd always say.  She has her own way of dealing with anger which involves her being isolated and alone.  

We've had our share of dare-I-say 'girly fights' and with me, she has always managed to verbalize what upsets her.  What I did wrong.  What I should've done.  What big dick I was.  She is relentless.  Guilty or not, I still feel at fault and find myself having a great need to apologize.  Seeing her hurt is the last thing anybody would want.  That’s her genius.  And I hate her for it. 

8.     We are not a mushy duo. I’ve seen Bebsy cry many times. But she makes it look so comical  that it's hard to take her seriously. In most cases, I would shake her, turn her inside out and make her realize she’s wasting both our times. Then I’d feel a need to give her a good smack in the head.  Seriously.  

One time tho she let out a soft, silent sob.  One that she didn’t want me to see.  That was very painful and heartbreaking to watch.  I was bewildered and saddened by the bad hand life has dealt her during that difficult time, and when I saw her that vulnerable right before my eyes, my inherent reaction was to say nothing, just be present and hold her hand.

That’s the thing about Bebsy.  One moment you want to wring her neck or smack her in the head, the next moment you want to take care of her and reassure her that you’ll never leave her side.

9.     She sends text messages about almost everything:  photos of her injured body parts, questions she can easily Google but too lazy to do on her own.  She sends messages so confusing they are actually meant for someone else. 

I complained about this manic texting once, and when she stopped, I found myself strangely missing it, missing her. Because her family and her very close circle of friends are all geographically out of her reach, it's her way of protecting the linkage.  In her mind these random texts are her way of saying ‘I’m thinking of you. I'm making an effort to keep this relationship going. I value your response. So respond, Godammit.”  

She complains about sending expensive international texts but has no problem calling me in Madrid from her cellular phone in Toronto to read a whole David Sedaris essay she thought was so funny.  (FYI Nothing is funny at 3am when you’re doing your damnest to adjust to local time by sleeping soundly. So I don't think it was unreasonable for me to be un-amused. Sweet Jesus.) 

10.    She is never big-headed about her real remarkable talents (she's cunning & smart, puts the CakeBoss to shame &  has the voice of an angel), but very arrogant about the ones she clearly does not possess.

I’m very intuitive, she boasts.  No, she’s not.  

I know what people are thinking.  No, she doesn’t.  

I’m a wiz at Math.  Algebra, yes, she proved that one time, but Basic Arithmetic, hell no. Tell her your birth year, ask what your age is, her response,"Fuck.... Math."

I am a great basketball player.  No one can prove this.  No one has seen her play, not even Hans Smit, her own university phys ed teacher.  (She bribed him with hard-to-find imported smokes so she didn’t have to go through a whole trimester of gym!)

11.     She is the sweetest and kindest friend any man can ever have.  That, I can attest to.  She is thoughtful, selfless, loyal and trust worthy.  She's like a big kid, really.  She remembers birthdays and knows her friends’ mothers’ first names.  She has this unique calming personality that makes everybody feel comfortable around her, making  people she's just met feel like they're long lost friends.   
She genuinely cares.  Her kindness is beyond compare.   She would take a bullet for people she loves the way she would do for her own children.  The truth is, no one is like her.
Bebsy is the only person I can truthfully talk to and be myself without a shred of shame.  We share our failures and victories, I confide in her the secrets of my heart, and with each other, we are transparent. With her, I can stand in the honest truth of who I am, without any tinge of judgment from her, and that is the gift she continually gives me in life. The great gift anyone can get by simply being her friend.

It’s pretty cool that I have a buddy like that who just happens to be a chick, you know?

Happy birthday B.  
Love ya pal.

our last photo tog in an NYC cab

Saturday, 23 March 2013


The whole point of being a girl and having girlfriends is that however stupid and hideous you look or behave, they are biologically programmed to tell you that you're beautiful, your hair and shoes look fabulous, and you are not as fat as you think you are.

They take you shopping.  They buy you a gorgeous dress for your birthday. They take you out for dinner and take you clubbing. Yes, clubbing.  They cheer when you get carded at the bar.  

I've made a vow to annually celebrate the eve of my birthday with my kindest, funniest girlfriends.  I just discovered what a wonderful feeling it is waking up on your birthday with stomach muscle aches from laughing hysterically the previous night.

..and the giddy thought I was carded.  (Oh yes, I'm beating this to death for months!)

Saturday, 23 February 2013

sung out

I was in between jobs in the late 90s when I saw the VHS copy of Allison Anders' film Grace Of My Heart which is said to be a thinly-based biopic of Carole King.  It was a commercial flop that I assumed went straight to video despite a wonderful original soundtrack written by Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello.  

The talented Illeana Douglas plays aspiring singer/songrwriter Denise Waverly as the film follows her struggles in her turbulent personal and professional life.

The heart of the film is the hauntingly beautiful song "God Give Me Strength".  It's not cheese.  It's deeply sad, poignant, honest, raw and emotional, and has been the running soundtrack of my few days past.  

Do yourself a favour and listen, will ya?

Now I have nothing, so God give me strength,
'cause I'm weak in his ways,
and if I'm strong, I might still break.

And I don't have anything to share
that I won't throw away into the air.
That song is sung out.
This bell is rung out.

He was the light that I'd bless.
He took my last chance of happiness.
So God give me strength.

God, if he'd grant me his indulgence and decline,
I might as well wipe him from my memory.
Fracture the spell as he becomes my enemy.
And maybe I was washed out
like a lip print on his shirt.

See, I'm only human, I want him to hurt.
I want him, I want him to hurt.

Since I lost the power to pretend
that there could ever be a happy ending.

That song is sung out.
This bell is rung out.

He was the light that I'd bless.
He took my last chance of happiness.
So God give me strength.
God give me strength.