Happy Slappy Halloween!

October 31, 2006

A Happy Halloween to all of the creatures of the night out there.

You know who you are.

Now that that is out to way- DAMMIT, it is 365 days until the next Halloween. At least there is the Day of the Dead as a decent encore for spooky days.

Fall is officially in the air, Thanksgiving is about three weeks away and the birthday of that zombie the Christians adore is not that far off either (come one, admit it, he is the living dead).

The Austin Record Convention this past weekend was a bust as the pickings were slim and that guy from Hollywood just kept marking up his prices to ridiculous heights. I hope I never see his mug at the convention ever again. At least I was able to find that Mephisto Waltz CD that I lost years back and have not been able to locate again until this weekend. And finally got that last volume of the X-File mythology sets and Manny Coto’s Odyssey 5. Holly and I saw the first John Doggett episode of the X-Files- I have always enjoyed Robert Patrick (the best Terminator out there) and his initial two-parter does seem to reinvigorate the series. More on this later.

And after what seems like forever, this weekend, Holly and I have finally seen the entire La Femme Nikita TV show with a marathon run of the last eight episodes of the truncated fifth season. I gotta say that I was surprised that I ended up liking the show. Surprised because the first season of the show sucked when I first saw it (being made by the same people who make my favourite show, 24, my expectations were a bit high. I will return to watch it again soon to see if I can change my opinion on that season). It definitely blows Alias out of the water (no Rimbaldi type story arc is a definite plus and the soap opera elements of who loves who and odd familial connections are way less WB or telenovella). By the way and I have mentioned this before- Sydney Bristow would never last a day in Section One and would be sent straight to abeyance.

Favourite season of Nikita would be the second one as it totally changed my expectations after seeing the first season. I cannot really point out a favourite episode although the Juliet Landau episode comes to mind as the actress shows she can be more that just Drusilla.

I give La Femme Nikita the TV show a good 4 stars out of 5. A must if you prefer your spies more John Le Carre and less James Bond (speaking of which, I have just got to finish Tinker, Tailor, Sailor, Spy one of these days).

Have I mentioned yet that it is Halloween? I am probably doing nothing but watching Tim Burton’s Vincent and handing out candy. I would love to go out in costume and scare the normal folk, but the normal folk nowadays tend to think it is their day to be all “goth” or whatever and that poserism is what is truly frightening. The next time the holiday falls on a weekend or something, maybe I will show them how it is done.

Damn, the holidays are upon us and pretty soon we will be dead.

Godlike nonsense being thrown at you...

October 24, 2006

From Gene Luen Yang, artist and writer of American Born Chinese, the first graphic novel to be nominated for the National Book Award:

"I think the Asian American community right now is in the midst of defining itself. For a while I think we were all trying to be white. Then there was a period of time when we were trying to be black. And now we're finally coming up with something that's truly our own."

I think that statement works on both the general level of all Asian Americans and also (although many of us hate to admit it) on a personal level. I mean, I remember my hip-hop period (freshman year in high school), back when Ice Cube was more political and not known for being in movies (he really could have been Chuck D’s contemporary). Then I started listening to the Cure. How one goes from street level rap to new wave/Goth, I will never know.

I never went through a period where I despised being Asian, living in Southern California, I always had access to Asian things if I ever wanted be it people, food or entertainment. But you could say I was pretty white-washed for a brown (not yellow, I am not sick) person. Yes, I am a coconut.

Am I proud of being a coconut? No, but I am not ashamed of it either, it was just the way I was raised as the Asian identity was never forced upon me. I have dated more Caucasian women than Asian women (and maybe one or two Hispanic women). I like to think there was some conscious thought into that as it bugged me that plenty of the Asian guys I went to school with would only date Asian girls. How they found Asian girls, I will also never know as a majority that I knew tended to only date white/African-American guys.

Anyway, the whole Asian Pride thing never really came to my mind until I met Ritzel Ngo, who was the first person I knew who really advocated the issue in a genuine manner and not like she was reading the reasons behind her advocating from a script (and who was also not part of FASA, who were always a bit pretentious and even xenophobic, at least some of the members that I knew; Char, if you are reading this- you were the exception). Where Ritzel is now, I do not know as we lost touch after I left CSUN (I think she is a high powered lawyer somewhere, probably DC). But she made me see that events like the Filipino Independence Day event at church was not just a day when we ate pansit, palabok or chocolate meat (never tell a white guy what that stuff really is) and whatever, but also a good reflection as to where it is we came from and that it is something that you could feel proud to have as part of your cultural resume (PS: I consider Holly Asian American as well as she was raised in Hong Kong and integrated herself into the local society rather than be segregated like expats there tend to do).

I am starting to sound like the guy in that movie The Debut- go see it, it was a decent movie and especially nice to see the flat nosed, cha-cha dancing ones get some respect and representation on the big screen. But what the movie did not get is the last portion of Gene Luen Yang’s statement that began this entry. He is right that the Asian American community is discovering that very definition of that term. The Asian and the American- not quite an amalgam of the two and not finding the middle ground between the two, in a way something that is neither and yes, at the same time is exactly that. Confusing? Maybe.

Like the white guys and the black guys, the Asian term that is placed on us is a bit of a misnomer. Not all white guys are of a Germanic background just like not all black guys are descended from the same areas of Africa. I am Filipino (and some of us do not think of us as Asian but as Pacific Islander- I agree to a point but one of my grandfathers was half Chinese and the other grandfather was half Japanese, so I proudly stick the Asian bit to referring to who I am). I am different from someone who came from Laos (although we could look alike).

Where was I? Oh, yeah- Asian Americans come to a background that stretches a lot of the world- almost two thirds of the world especially if you include the Pacific Islands like some people (like me) do. But we all ended up here in this country where at one time we all tried to be white, then tried to be black, then rediscovered where we came from was not Europe or Africa but Asia (also, we were never ashamed that is where we came from, we just forgot) and put that part into our identities and became something new.

Asian American.

Just like what Gene Luen Yang was saying. Read his book too if you get the chance, he deserves the nomination.

Oh, and Ramadan is apparently over. Salamat, Hari Raya!

MySpace Sucks

October 23, 2006

". . . death is like a *&%#ing bus. You wait and wait and then three turn up at once, and none of them are *&%#ing yours."- Warren Ellis

Myspace.com is seriously compromised now. Spammers are fishing passwords, are posing as you and posting ads and other just plain junk on bulletin boards and who knows what else? Apparently some people on my friends list have sexy pics for sale. Even the Cure has been spammed and even worse, someone posing as the band is trying to scam you for some stupid Vegas thing. And you get an annoying ad every time you log on now.

The site sucks, now.

Newsarama.com has some a series of some really interesting articles about the comic book industry in the Philippines and also lists some of the Filipino artists who are working for the major publishers today (a bunch of them are or began at Top Cow). Who knew there were so many of us in the comic book industry? So, kids remember that even if your dad wants you to become a nurse, keep drawing and one day you too can be just like Lenil Francis Yu. Or be both like Jay Anacleto- whose day job is as a dentist.

On other thing, the following comments were made by Buzz Aldrin for those who want to be an astronaut when they grow up (like me!):

"I would suggest that you look into being special in some research area that's pertinent to what we're going to be doing," like astronomy, geology or life sciences, he said. "Less and less I believe we will have need for the piloting skills that require test pilot backgrounds. The piloting skills are going to be called upon for a smaller portion of the mission, as the mission gets to be six months on the Moon ... and they're going to be more and more controlled by robotics. So have a specialty, a research area, and know how to communicate very well ... and then be a team member, work well with other people. On these long-duration flights going to Mars, it's going to take a great deal of compatibility among the crew members."

My ambition to be an astronaut was shot when I became nearsighted and could not become a pilot. It is nice to know that in the future you could just be super smart and not be an air jockey as well. Too bad I am not super smart.


Combichrist/KMFDM Review

October 20, 2006

"Kein Mitleid Für Das Mehrheit"


This show kicked my ass. It is that simple.

But first, a slight negative remark from me. Both bands only have one song. It is a song marked in its originality with its hard hitting electro beats and aggressiveness that is likewise originally reworked and remade each time and then given another name. It is that simple with these two bands, you hear one song; you heard their whole set list. If you like that one song, you will like the band, if not; move along there is nothing to see here.

And you can believe I love the songs that Combichrist and KMFDM threw at me and attempted to bash in my senses.

Combichrist threw that electro-beat industrial stomp, stomp, stomp music I love so much nowadays beginning with Get Your Body Beat and ending with what I now call the Nury Vitacchi song (search my archives to get my meaning). Andy LaPaglia’s band was the one that I came to see ever since picking up their most recent album and especially after hearing their latest single. I really enjoyed hearing some of their older stuff from the albums I do not have yet. Hard hitting and extremely danceable music, with percussionist that pound into their stuff like the world is going to end (either that or it is the pounding that causes the world to end).

My one regret is that I cannot play their albums at work as all their tunes are definitely R-Rated. Plus they did the most unbelievable thing ever and started their set half an hour early. Norwegians, I love how they rock.

Then came KMFDM, after half an hour of being put to sleep by Swan Lake in the venue sound speakers (I kid you not). They came, bashed your head in and did not stop with the bashing for the next ninety minutes. I was really impressed with the energy these guys (and one lady) put out and that they were able to maintain that energy for the whole set. Most the new songs veer dangerously close to speed metal (Holly would say they crashed the barriers and were speed metal) but the trademark lyrics were still full of that iconic and ironic wit that helped you fall in love with KMFDM in the first place. I mean come on, “WORLD WAR THREE! BE ALL THAT YOU CAN BE!” You gotta love that. Additionally impressed with Lucia’s presence on stage and how she holds up against all that testosterone on stage and in the audience. It is a wonder that she remains a cult sensation while a loser like Gwen Stefani gets all the fame. Maybe if we get Japanese groupies to follow her around all the time?

Not too many of the old stuff, I wanted to hear Juke Joint Jezebel but thrilled that they played Light at least.

Dial 1-800-ACCEPT-NO-IMITATIONS indeed.

These guys are still on tour, catch them if you can. You will not be disappointed.

Show Review:
A million and ten stars. If I wanted to exaggerate, I would have given them a billion.

That was probably the last live show that I am going to see this year and probably for a while. I just cannot afford to pay at least 50 bucks every time a well known band I like comes into town to play in a crappy venue with crappy seats. What I like about bands like Combichrist/KMFDM is that their following is still such that they can still put on a hard hitting show in a decent club venue and not charge an arm and a leg. I fear that VNV Nation and Apoptygma Berzerk might soon join the 50 bucks a show crowd as Ronan Harris is now remixing and producing songs for AFI and Stephan Groth wants more mainstream acceptance.

Do not get me wrong, I want them to be rich and famous; I am just going to miss the intimate settings that being rich and famous will not afford them to play in.

On the plus side, it also leads to discovery of newer and previously unknown to me bands like the Birthday Massacre (say, where is the new album?) and is actually how I discovered Combichrist.

Emo’s was an interesting venue, a beautiful dive of a place. It was the outdoor stage, but it looked as if it used to be their garage. They are going to franchise the venue, I wonder if the dive quality is going to say intact in other locations.

Meanwhile in the real world:

Hippos in the Congo are going to be extinct within a year as noted in http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/science/nature/6065796.stm

That is just sad.

The average rent for an apartment in Los Angeles County is now $1546 a month. It is $1452 in Ventura County. The media price for an existing home in California is still half a million dollars.

That is just painful.

By the way, October is also Filipino American History Month and 2006 marks the 100th year of Filipino migration to the United States (although it is my understanding that the first Pinoy arrived in the Louisiana area in pre-colonial days).

Why didn’t you guys tell me? Is it because I am with an orang puteh?

I have no pity for you in the majority.


Dream Interpretation - School

I dreamt of being back in Ateneo. Instead of walking on a regular pathway around campus, I was riding on a gliding floor that branched into two, one going to the left side of the campus, the other to the right. It felt like I was in first year and I was attending an org meeting for the first time. Then it jumped to my second year. I was attending a meeting again and while

"Deceive, Inveigle, Obfuscate"

October 18, 2006

"Deceive, Inveigle, Obfuscate"

I think it is coming to about a year since I started a bloggy type thing. About a hundred or so people have looked at the one at blogspot (although some of that is me looking for comments people may have left, usually it is just Big Louie) and I have had about 650 looky loos at my Myspace page (although none probably read the blog portion). A huge prize by the way if you are the 666th. Probably I will put curse on them. Or well wishes from me. Not that I would know how you were the 666th, anyway.

Either way, I am probably going to cut down the number of posts (not that many people would miss me writing something once a week). I would like to maybe write more short stories and use this space to put it out. Who knows, maybe I will write something eventually that I will feel confident enough to submit to something (and if you are by some miracle a loyal long time reader of mine, you will realize I said the same thing a year ago although with the house on the horizon, I will have more time and significantly less money to go gallivanting, so it is to the magnificent place that is my imagination that I go).

In the meanwhile, I would like to congratulate my cousin, Kathy on the birth of her new bouncing baby boy. I forget the name, but it was not a name Gwen picked (I think) and it is definitely not as horrid as the name my sister picked for her kid. Kathy is as much a sister to me as my real sisters are and I hope your kid grows up to be president someday or something like that.

In the real world, Iceland is continuing its intention to resume whaling. As the most famous Icelander out there, why have we not heard yet from Bjork (I am probably not looking hard enough)? Jackie Chan has been known to do public service announcements to help prevent the slaughter of sharks and tigers, so where is the little pixie? Stoopid celebrities aside, I still cannot believe they are continuing with the killing of cetaceans. Now, if they did it old school style with ten men in tiny boats lobbing spears at them I would not care as much. That way they have a fighting chance (and the beasts could get mad and just topple them). But, no, it is sooper harpoons where it is pretty much point and shoot and there you go- whale burgers.

Bastards, all of them.

Then there is whatever Uncle Kim is up to on NoKo. Can someone tell him that he is giving Asians the world over a bad name and not just Koreans? Most of the world cannot tell us apart anyway, so can you just quit it already?


Continuing our run through the X-Files stand alone episodes. Skipped a bunch in the third season because Holly does not want to watch stuff about serial killers. But came across the Darin Morgan episodes, particularly the one with Peter Boyle and the one about cockroaches. This guy’s writing is good, great even- I wonder whatever happened to him? I am partly surprised that he did not end up as part of Mutant Enemy.


Spooky Stuff

October Friday the 13th, 2006

VNV Nation played in L.A. on October 13, 2006. Roman Dirge has an art show in Hollywood that same day. On days like today, I really miss home.

On the plus side, Halloween is around the corner. On one day a year, the normals get to act all Goth, no one gets mad at me for wearing black everyday, the best music gets played on the radio, we all get sick on candy and, generally good times get had by all. To get in the spirit of things, I would like to present my current ten favourite spooky related movies and shows. Check them all out when you get the chance. Or I will swallow your soul!

(Note: Buffy and Angel are not on the list because they are more action-comedies-dramas than actually being spooky- same goes to the Blade movies which I love. Special mention, though, must go to the Body episode of Buffy. The scariest things are the real things that we all must endure in at least one point of our lives. Special mention also goes out to that Sandman issue where all those people get stuck in that one diner)

10. Se7en:
Not a ghost or goblin in sight, the monsters here are all too human. This is a great movie; it just makes me feel dirty after watching it because we all have the potential to become John Doe.

9. Jason Vs. Freddy:
Here, the monsters are in your face. A lot of people would say this is not the best Jason or Freddy movie, but I happen to like it a lot more than I thought I would. Very fun movie with fake scares and dead teenagers plus I have fond memories of both horror icons growing up. Seeing them face off was certainly a lot better than the Aliens going off against them pesky Predators.

8. Millennium/X-Files:
Millennium is like Se7en the TV show. The X-Files is one of the best shows ever made. Both feature a lot of shadows and moody lighting. And like Se7en, they also tend to showcase the awful potential of humanity. The X-Files tended to perk up especially in the later seasons, but Millennium just stays bleak all the way through. Special mention goes to that Host episode which just justifies my disgust of squirmy, legless bugs.

7. The Eye/The Eye II:
I do not really care for the Asian Horror that is being remade so much nowadays (like the Ring) but I happen to like these two. The first one turned out to be more character study and forgiveness and the second all about karma and reincarnation. I forget which movie had this, but I love the scene in the elevator where the character was stuck in with a dead guy and she is so terrified she cannot ever turn around or move and the dead just ever so slowly creeps closer and closer to her. That was a great scare.

6. Evil Dead II:
This gets close to being the action/drama/comedy that got Buffy disqualified from my list. But the claustrophobia of being trapped in that cabin works as well as the reactions of the characters. And the look on Ash’s face as he buries his girlfriend.

5: Land of the Dead:
Actually all of the George Romero zombie movies. Especially Day of the Dead. Land of the Dead gets top billing, because it is my favourite one. Surrounded by hordes of the undead, these movies prove that the human monster is the one we should fear. Plus, there are zombies! Which people say are the new vampire, but I never wanted to be a zombie, just to walk around like one. Special mention must go to Shaun of the Dead. That movie just rocks.

4: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace:
Scary because I enjoyed it the first time I saw it in a crowd full of rabid fans. Nowadays, it is so bad it is scary and Jar Jar Binks will give you nightmares. If I ever watch it, I just go straight to the Darth Maul scenes.

3. Mr. Vampire:
This movie is just fun. Hopping vampires, kung fu, a gorilla that comes out of nowhere and that yellow robed Taoist Priest that just knows the right thing and at the right time what will repel the creatures of the night. Get the sticky rice and hold your breath- because the vampires cannot sense you when you do!

2. A Chinese Ghost Story:
If you are a Cure fan like me, this song will get A Forest stuck in your head for weeks. Drawing in the fear of being lost in the woods with a sensual but touching love story, this is a certified classic. Everyone must see this one before they die.

1. Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas/Corpse Bride:
Could there be any other? These two movies must be seen on Halloween (with Vincent shown prior to the screening). Nightmare has the weaker story but the better songs while Corpse Bride has an awesome story but crappy songs. See how that works? But Tim Burton is a visual storyteller, and here is his best work (although Edward Scissorhands is a personal favourite- but that is more of a Christmas tale). Special mention goes to Sleepy Hollow, the closest thing to a pure horror movie from Tim Burton.

Well there you have it. Ten (or so) spooky tales to watch this Halloween (which I may now do a marathon of). For your MP3 player, here are some tunes to help you get into the mood:

Lullaby- The Cure (the spiderman is coming for you tonight)
Dead Man’s Party- Oingo Boingo (leave your body and soul at the door!)
Birthday Party- The Birthday Massacre (chases me to my room!)
Night Shift- Siouxsie and the Banshees (only at night time, I see you, in darkness!)
Bela Lugosi’s Dead- Bauhaus (undead, undead, undead)
Charlotte Sometimes- The Cure (an aural ghost story if there ever was one)
Everyday is Halloween- Ministry (because for me, it is)

Ah, Halloween, it is the most wonderful time of the year.

Nothing but the Truth

October 11, 2006

First of all, Tibetans have been shot trying to cross over to Nepal by Chinese Soldiers. And it was witnessed by climbers on Everest. Reminds me of the debacle a few months ago when whale watchers in Finland instead saw the beloved cetaceans harpooned in front of them. See the sad tale at: http://www.gnn.tv/headlines/11622/Tibetan_refugees_shot_dead_as_Everest_climbers_watch

I saw X-Men III this past weekend. I really hope Bryan Singer comes back and does another one so this movie can be forgotten. I keep trying to say to myself that it is an okay effort, but that is a lie. There are some decent actions scenes and Magneto is still a pretty lovable bad guy, but that is about it. The way three main characters are killed off is very disrespectful (one does not even get the courtesy of a death scene, he just disappears from the story with little explanation). Logan ‘loving’ Jean is off character (I know they have some history in the comics, but Jean ultimately belongs to Scott and Logan accepts this). We get teased about the Sentinel (and I HATE teasers). Mystique gets royally screwed. Calisto is NOT a speedster and I really want that one guy to be named Porcupine Lad. Do not get me started about Rogue and the Beast (who was decent at the start but slides downhill from there).

The X-Men get an awesome first flick, a second one that blows the first one out of the park and a last one that just sucks. At least it made money and with that comes hope that the Wolverine movie will be good and that another X-Men movie will be made to erase our memories of this one.

No Stars (but it was still better than Batman and Robin)

More X-Files this past weekend, with the conclusion of the seventh season and showing Holly the stand alones of the earlier seasons. Thee seventh season is generally a good season; it is just that most of the episodes had no right to be part of the X-Files. The worst of the bunch has to be the two-parter about Mulder’s sister. That just made no sense. Towards the end, there were some efforts to replicate the creepiness of the earlier seasons, especially the one with the snakes. The COPS styled episode was actually decent and I liked the one about the genie as well as the Hollywood AD one.

The one that stands out the most, and the one that impressed me, though was the episode written and directed by Gillian Anderson. It reminded me of a Wong Kar-Wai movie. Very nicely shot with an engaging story that really has no right to being an X-File, but unlike most of the episodes this season, the characterizations pull it through and it all makes sense in the end. Plus I like eastern philosophies and this one has them coming out the yin-yang (pun intended).

X-Files Season Seven: Three Stars
That Gillian Anderson Episode: A Billion Stars! Or something like that.


The Truth is in here...

October 06, 2006

I forget sometimes that I work in a down town area. Usually, the only thing that reminds me is the traffic going home. Traffic going to work is usually fine (knock on wood). I sometimes even forget I live in a state capital. So, I took a brief walk during my lunch break to see what is across the street from me. Not what is around me, just what is across the street in one direction.

A quick ten minute walk found me an apartment complex with at least three eateries, several expensive looking stores and an overpriced grocery store as well as an art museum and a children’s museum. And plenty of people just hanging out. Not vagrants, mind you, people who look like it is their weekend and they just wanted to be out and enjoy sun while it lasts.

I am watching lots of the X-Files recently. I used to watch this show quite a bit during the first five seasons, stopping when I moved to Northridge and got more of a life. So you can call me a Vancouver-era X-Files fan. Watching Fox Mulder go around and do his stuff is what made me take psychology as a major in college (plus his weird sense of humor, home video collection and how he goes off in seemingly odd tangents to explain the unexplainable reminds me a bit of myself). I have yet to join the FBI and did not go into criminal profiling but I still may someday.

The post Vancouver episodes have a different feel to them, at least seasons six and seven (I will probably skip the years after Mulder was ‘abducted’). It is not just that it is LA now (substituting for the rest of the world), the mythology seems less focused (especially after the destruction of the First Syndicate) and the CSM seems less of a threat. Not to say that the episodes are bad, they are actually pretty good but they just do not seem like the X-Files of the seasons leading up to the movie. Gone are the attempts to make each episode feel like a big screen movie, the unnerving feeling that something is just around the corner, the blackness and the shadows and the explanations for the unexplainable being plausible.

I saw the episode yesterday with the guy cursed with incredible good luck for example. I like Jeffery Bell’s work (especially on Whedon’s Angel) and this one is no exception. It just does not feel like an X-Files episode. It is just too happy. Mulder, Scully and the X-Files theme song just do not click here. Although, thinking of it now, substitute in Fred, Wesley and the rest of the Angel gang and it is a better fit. Anyway, Holly likes these episodes better that the earlier monster-of-the-week ones (she seems to enjoy the mythology ones as much as I do). I wonder how she will react if I show her the Flukeman or the ‘Home’ episode?

And now to some other news:

A guy was withheld from taking a flight because he was on his cell phone speaking Tamil intermixed with some English in an agitated tone because he was talking about sports. He vows to never speak Tamil in airports again. Pretty soon, I will not be able to speak Tagalog unless I am in the designated zone. That is, if I could speak Tagalog that frequently enough.
George Allen is still running for reelection as a Senator in Virginia. He hates anyone with color in their skin. Please do not vote for him.

The Military Commissions Act which apparently gives the President power to label anyone an "enemy combatant”, amongst other things.

Giant sea faring dinosaurs discovered in the Antarctic. Unfortunately they were already dead.

A new authorized Peter Pan novel just came out. I rather read Lost Girls if I could afford it.

Giant squid have ammonia in their bodies to help the maintain buoyancy and makes their flesh taste like crap. Good luck trying to catch one though if you like crappy tasting food.

Chupacabras have been seen recently in San Antonio and supposed corpses of such beings are currently being examined at UT.

The Departed comes out today. You will really do yourself a favor if you see the original Infernal Affairs films first. They are the best trilogy to come out of Hong Kong.

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