Breeder’s Digest

Shall I give a rundown of the last movies I’ve seen? Sure, why not? Well, tracking the movies I’ve watched is easier now since I started logging them on Letterboxd. And I’m also slowly transferring some of my movie ‘reviews’ in this blog to Letterboxd for whatever it’s worth. One thing I don’t like about Letterboxd though is that, it seems some people will follow you only so that you’ll follow them back. And then, they’ll unfollow you when you don’t do it within 24 hours. (Well, that’s social network for you, dumbass! Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pornhub — that’s basically social networking site in default mode. Wait. Is Pornhub a social network?) So, I don’t know, maybe my Letterboxd account will soon be like the movie review section of this blog. But the fun part of it is that I can also log some jokey ‘reviews’ just for sake of it. I can make jokes about movies like Rurouni Kenshin and Black Widow, in addition to writing ‘actual reviews.’

The Eroticist (1972). Sexy hilarious nunsploitation comedy that satirizes “the separation of the state, the mafia, and the church,” and arguably darker than any Scorsese gangster flick.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013). It’s a perfectly fine movie — in a mid-budget B-movie Sam Raimi-esque splatter-happy R-rated violence+nudity certified rotten but beloved by horror fans kind-of-way.

Dogwashers (2020). Looks like Guy Ritchie gangster movie. As bloody violent as the bloodiest Ritchie but not as fast flashy and funny.

Loki (2021). I thought two or three episodes were fun, especially the Loki-Mobius buddy comedy — promising but ditched too soon because, you know, the series goes back to being an MCU property. Means, it prioritizes the plot, the setup, the introduction for the next Thanos-level villain. And just when I thought that Sylvie was becoming an interesting character, she goes back to being what her character was ultimately written for — to serve the plot, the setup, the introduction for the next Thanos-level villain.

Black Widow (2021). Black Widow mixes Winter Soldier-action, GotG-drama about family, and the usual MCU-quippy comedy without actually being good at any of the three. Which means, yes, it is a movie.

Patient X (2009). Unsurprisingly bad acting from Richard Gutierrez, vampires who probably thought they’re in a better version of Twilight, DP shaking the camera like in Jason Bourne movies, and Christine Reyes almost convincing me to give this movie another half-star just for her being in the movie.

Rurouni Kenshin: The Final (2021). The story may be slim, the plot straightforward AF. But that’s why it works. It’s more focused than the last two Rurouni Kenshin movies. It has high-flying action and it’s a revenge story that tells deeper stuff about killing and revenge, more than, idk, the two volumes of Kill Bill?

Downsizing (2017). Billionaire-backed scientists found a way to save the environment by telling poor people to live within their means.

Superhero Movie (2008). Aside from being ahead of its time (literally), this is at least half-star better than the most bland DC & MCU movies. Also, that “All By Myself” song/sequence is just so frickin’ good!

The Swordsman (2020). A Korean Rurouni Kenshin, with a bit of Zatoichi that’s relatively more grounded than those Battousai movies (i.e., less anime-style swordfights). Joe Taslim was so pissed the semi-blind Swordsman cheated in the final battle.

Ang Babaeng Walang Pakiramdam (2021). Solid s’ya. Nakakatawa/nakakaiyak. Parang gusto ko kumain ng moenmin pagkatapos.

Shall I give you a rundown of my recent favorite songs. Tracking my latest favorite songs has been easier since I started listening to music on YouTube. I just go to my History, and Voila Davis! There’s the last videos I watched and the last songs I played. So, without further ado…

Binibini, Zack Tabudlo. Discovered this song first via some parody (“Binubuni”) on Facebook. Then, I searched for it on YouTube and I thought I kinda liked it. Thought the chorus sounds like something else, but could put a finger on. Sometimes that’s a good thing.

Lagi, Aina Juarez (Skusta Clee cover). Found it used in one video on FB about EMI a.k.a. Bitukang Manok a.k.a the Zigzag Road in Atimonan, Quezon. Didn’t watch the whole thing but found the song interesting. So I decided that I’ll watch it later but it turns out, tracking your watched history on FB isn’t as easy as I thought. So, I spent maybe around an hour just searching, watching, re-watching anything Zigzag Road on FB until I found it.

How Was Your Day? beabadoobee. Haven’t really listened to the whole Fake It Flowers album. But this song and the other songs on YT are all watch-worthy.

Friend of Mine, Odette Quesada / To Love Again, Sharon Cuneta. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m on Odette-Quesada’s-version-of-Friendzone-mood lately.

Indak, Up Dharma Down (Tower Sessions). Yeah, Odette Quesada’s late husband Bodjie Dasig’s “Sana Dalawa Ang Puso Ko”, which probably was one of UDD’s inspiration for the song, reminded me of this.

How Did You Know? Chiqui Pineda. As I’ve also mentioned before, better than Gary V.

Ate Sandali, Maris Racal. Sarah Geronimo and her songwriters probably weren’t aiming for the same vibe with the song “Tala”, BUT that song just doesn’t do it for me. Sure, the dance moves were um, somewhat new but as a pop song to listen to (and not to bust some moves on TikTok) it just doesn’t cut it for me. But this song does. It’s catchy, dance-y, it’s actually refreshing without trying so much to break-out of the usual pop song mold.

Kinikilig, Hazel Faith. See above.

Ulan, Cueshe (Live on Wish107). This video has got a fucking gazilion views! Can’t say I’m a big fan but, take THAT haters!!! I hope that Wish107 would give some of these YouTube “royalties” to the band and none for band’s haters. Lols.

All By Myself, Gabriel Mann. It’s a shame that there’s no full version of this available on YT apart from what was used in the movie. In case you don’t know, it’s a parody of “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” sequence in Spider-Man 2. But this version of the song actually rocks, better than Eric Carmen’s or Celine Dion’s version.

Black Widow (2021)

Black Widow is pretty much like the majority of MCU movies: fairly entertaining, CGI-bloated, middling action scenes, doesn’t pack much emotions, and somewhat forgettable especially for those who aren’t really too invested in its characters. Florence Pugh is great. Scarlett Johansson, well, she seems caught between giving her last best try and phoning it in. She’s probably thinking about moving on too, just like RDJ. And the movie gives us “obligatory” shots of her ass, because I don’t know.

Like in most MCU movies, issues and themes only serve as window dressing, not something to tackle, grapple with, pore through. Characters have emotional moments, BUT not emotional journey or meaningful arcs. There won’t be another Black Widow movie, most probably. She’s already dead (at least in the main timeline). Also, the movie’s roughly half a decade late already. Nobody seems to care for Natasha Romanoff’s future anymore and Marvel, cynical as it is, clearly knows this. There’s no more bigger evidence for it than the movie’s post-credit scene, shoving Florence Pugh’s lovable face to our faces, and undercutting what could’ve been a genuine grieving moment for the dead, with a joke and a shameless Disney+ plug that’s utterly shameless. Couldn’t these people pay respect for the dead character and for once just let it sink in for a moment? That’s pretty insulting to Black Widow, I guess.

And if you look further, you can consider the whole movie as another evidence for it — that Marvel doesn’t really care all that much for its titular character. Its warmed-over “family” story, its recycled brainwashed killing machine from The Winter Soldier, the obvious Mission: Impossible story beats, the genuine lack of stakes. So what if they don’t succeed? Oh, yeah, those women, the Black Widows — even though all of them were non-characters the audience couldn’t genuinely care for — no names, no characterization, no backstories, no nothing. And worse, this movie brings to mind the last two or so Mission: Impossible movies, without actually being able to deliver even just a single truly thrilling moment or a clever twist, like those Tom Cruise movies usually do.

Breeder’s Digest

Last movies I’ve watched and liked? Ang Babaeng Walang Pakiramdam (2020), and it seems to be getting “review-bombed” on Letterboxd. But it’s a fairly good movie, especially the acting — props to both Kim Molina and Gerald Napoles. Daryll Yap’s movies seems to get a lot of hate/dislike online and most probably for the wrong reasons (i.e., political correctness). And he seems to be on a roll recently — Pornstar, Tililing, then this, then there’s the new Sharon movie, Revirginized. Which probably makes it even more fashionable for “woke” people to dis his works. I liked some parts of #Jowable. And this is better than #Jowable.

Saw The Swordsman (2020) just in time for the new Rurouni Kenshin movie(s), which I wasn’t really too excited about to be honest. I wasn’t a big fan of Reflections, which I probably didn’t even watch in full. The Swordsman is like a more “grounded” (as in less on anime-style physics-defying swordfights) Korean Rurouni Kenshin, with a bit of Zatoichi thrown in for good measure (the titular character is slowly going blind). It’s a thrilling watch and Joe Taslim is menacing as the main villain.

Last movie I’ve watched and disliked? Death of A Girlfriend (2021). Nothing is believable in this movie. Maybe you should just watch Daryll Yap’s Pornstar instead. Or maybe you should just stick to TikTok. This movie is quite bad, Jeric Raval should be fuming mad.

Not really a huge fan of romantic movies, rom-coms, hugot films or whatever indie stuff like “I’m Drunk, Let’s Fuck” is in nowadays. But these three movies are my recent favorite romance/love story movies: A Copy of My Mind (2015), Monrak Transistor (2001), Joni’s Promise (2005). Meaning they get high recommendation from yours truly.

Recent favorite songs? I just recently discovered Music Hero’s “KLWKN” and “LDR”. Nice songs, even though I don’t like the idea of manufacturing bands. Zack Tabudlo’s “Binibini”, I liked and played more than any recent Zild, Unique, IVOS, or Oh, Flamingo! Fans are wondering why Raven’s “Paraluman” isn’t getting as much views on YouTube and I thought just because you like the song doesn’t mean others would like it too, right? I mean, “Paraluman” is kinda interesting, but “Binibini” blows it out of the water.

I was binging on older hits lately after I got curious what hits did Odette Quesada wrote. Turns out she wrote quite a lot. And then I found this article [link] and discovered that Bodjie Dasig, Quesada’s late husband, wrote “Sana Dalawa Ang Puso Ko” when he couldn’t choose between two car brands. Who would’ve thought there was something “Ballardian” about that song? When we were kids, this song automatically gets an alternate version — naughty kids that we were, we’d sing this song’s chorus differenly. Since puso (heart) rhymes with the Bicol word for penis (an adult penis by the way, because there’s another word for a boy’s penis), we’d sang it differently, which makes it even more “Ballardian”, I guess? I don’t know. I’m humming the tune right now.

Well, going back to Odette Quesada, I’ve known for so long that “Friend of Mine” was such a good song. About being ‘friendzoned’, way before it was called that. I just didn’t know then that it was Quesada who wrote and sang it. Maybe because the version I knew and heard the most from the radio, wasn’t her version, but by Lea Salonga. And MYMP also did their own version. So, the confusion. And she also wrote, Sharon’s “To Love Again”, which according to Alex Almario, is her greatest song.

This got me digging further. I remember that Gary Valenciano’s “How Did You Know?” was originally recorded by someone else. It was by Chiqui Pineda, in the mid-90s. And I liked the original version way better than Gary V.’s. Because not only does Gary V.’s version remind me of Gary V.’s corny singing style, it also reminds me of that movie where Aga Muhlach waited for the song to finish before he finally had a heart attack or was it something — can’t remember.

Yes, that movie where Aga Muhlach did what Empoy Marquez did in Kita Kita. He was, y’know, a bit of a stalker. And yes, that movie where Aga finally ended up with Kristine Hermosa, only to break her heart once again because he was terminally ill. I mean, this is probably one of the most cliche ending ever. And in case you haven’t seen that movie, yes, he died in the movie. Aga Muhlach died, while Gary V. was singing this song.

Breeder’s Digest

Sleep's The Sciences

Spacing Out

Alam mo ‘yung pumupungay ‘yung mata mo kahit ‘di ka naman naka-chongki. ‘Yung napapa-headbang ka kahit wala namang tugtog. Hindi yata ‘spacing out’ o ‘zoning out’ ang eksaktong katumbas nito, pero sa amin ang tawag dito ay nagtutukake. Nagtukake ako kanina. Habang nasa harap ng computer, habang nagtatrabaho.

Hindi naman ito madalas mangyari. Paminsan-minsan lang. [Cue in that Richard Reynoso song from the ’90s.]

Most of the time, it happens when I didn’t have enough sleep or when the deadlines are still far far away. You know, those little moments when I’m reading something or typing an email, and my thoughts start to wander, and weird images start appearing on my screen, my mind drifting, the subconscious taking over. Mere seconds where movie plot insert themselves into whatever I’m reading, or where movie characters show up on screen, or where erotic images flash for fraction of a second, like that giant erect penis near the end of Fight Club.

Wait. No, I don’t mean that specific image from Fight Club, but the way it was showed in the movie. As in blink and you miss it. Blink and you miss it but in slow motion. Like when one is stoned. I am not making sense, am I?

This reminds me of a friend who once sent an email with the word “nipple” in it, even though our work had nothing to do with anything related to pipes, plumbing or human anatomy. The email goes something like, “The [redacted] has been [redacted] from the [redacted]. Please see attached nipple.” One time, a 300-plus page e-book found its way to the printer. “I was only reading it, I swear. Somebody must have clicked print.” Yeah, right—somebody. One ream of A4 went straight to the recycle bin, a physical recycle bin.

Parang Si Ely Soriano

No matter how big of an Eraserheads fan you are, if you’re going to write a song, don’t put Ely Buendia’s name in your lyrics. Just don’t.

Check out Silent Sanctuary’s “Dekada 90.” If this doesn’t scream “hey, Eheads fan here” to you, listen again to the song. They could’ve done it without the name dropping. Or better, they could’ve stopped after “Estekka”. Why? Listen to “Estekka”. It does sound like Eraserheads circa Sticker Happy. And the title is probably a play on the word sticker, as in, you know, the album with the stand up piano in front of a naked lady sitting with a red balloon tied to her waist on the cover. Both songs are off their third album Mistaken For Granted, which isn’t as good as… shet, how do you spell fu-sha? It isn’t as good as their second album, the one with “Rebound.”

Want another example? Check out this song by Soapdish, which is a much graver offense, they even put his name in the title. It’s like “Hey, I’m an Eheads fan too. Please like my song.” By the way, Soapdish’ first album was OK. The second one, not so much. And it also contains this song.

Not that it cannot be done. Not that it can’t be done right or in a non-cringe-y way. Dong Abay did it with “Akrostik.” But he’s fucking Dong Abay, man. The End did it in “Drayb My BM.” But “Drayb My BM” is practically The End singer Darem Placer making fun of Eraserheads’ “Overdrive.” I don’t know, maybe you can go the beabadoobee way (“I Wish I Was Stephen Malkmus”)? Or stick to what I said first. Just don’t.

Did you know beabadoobee can read/speak Tagalog? There’s video of it on YouTube.

By the way, Silent Sanctuary’s “Hinga Ng Malalim” does sound like it’s about being depressed and pag-do-doobie. I mean, “Sisindihan ko lang ito at ipapasa ko sa’yo” can’t be about lighting a candle and passing it to someone, right?

Terminator Genisys (2015)


Was finally able to see this. What took me so long? Well, one, there’s the generally mixed to negative reviews. And two, life gets in the way. Work, too. Well, I don’t really care about Rotten Tomatoes. So, it’s really just the last two. And probably the endless and countless streams of choices we have now.

So, I’ve finally been able to watch Terminator Genisys. And surprisingly, it isn’t really bad. Yes, it’s supposed to be a franchise re-starter. And since it fared poorly at the box office, Arnie and James Cameron is left with no other choice but to restart. Again. Next time it would be with the original Sarah Connor: Linda Hamilton. And Deadpool director Tim Miller.

Obligatory plot summary? It goes like this: John Connor sent Kyle Reese back to 1984, to protect Sarah Connor, John’s mother. But Sarah Connor doesn’t need saving, she’s already got Pops to protect her. Pops is an aged T-800, played by an unde-aged Arnold Schwarzenegger. And just as Kyle Reese was leaving for the past, something happened to John. And Kyle arrived in an alternate 1984, where an older T-800 is there waiting for the original T-800, which is the villain in the first movie.

And yet, having an older and re-programmed T-800 in 1984 doesn’t eliminate the enemy’s threat. Instead, it brings T-1000 earlier in the timeline. At one point, they even have to deal with T-800 and T-1000 at the same time. So, Kyle Reese’s mission is still to protect Sarah, from, this time, more than just one Terminator—with the help of Pops, whom he doesn’t trust.

Sound confusing? Well, not really. And though the movie tries to complicate this “alternate/multiple timeline(s) thing” even further, it actually makes Genisys quite compelling, or at least, unpredictable. And time travel here is actually pretty straightforward when you compare it with the disappointingly flawed time-travel shenanigans in Avengers: Endgame.

The thing is, what Sarah already knew long before, Kyle doesn’t. And he’s a bit upset to learn about these things minutes before their little family reunion. And the little drama this movie has between Kyle and Sarah is, maybe not as much as what is there in the The Terminator, but the movie puts a new spin to it. In the original, Kyle had to protect Sarah, that’s his mission. And they fell in love. They made love. And Sarah became pregnant. But NOT this time. Sarah says they can’t, because John, in the future where Kyle came from, he goes haywire and then SkyNet wins. So they didn’t “mate,” which also makes old Arnie a bit disappointed. Who sent him anyway to way before 1984 anyway? My guess is it’s Sarah herself. But it doesn’t really matter. There won’t be a sequel for us to find out.

I like this new spin on Kyle’s and Sarah’s story. Here, Sarah doesn’t want Kyle to fall for her. Because she knew he’s going to die if he does. I know, maybe, only fans and those who saw The Terminator would understand that. But it still makes me a little sad when I think about how Kyle Reese died in the first movie.

I also like Emilia Clarke’s Daddy’s little girl Sarah Connor. Sure, you can’t replace the original Sarah; you can’t find someone who look, act, sound, and feel like the original. But Emilia Clarke does fine as a slightly younger looking version of Sarah (“soft and supple” according to one review) and she is just as sexy tough vulnerable as the Sarah Connor of 1984. Although she doesn’t look like she’s from the ’80s. Maybe Pops taught her a thing or two. Not just about guns and killing Terminators, but good fashion sense too.

DG terminator 2

Plot-wise, Genisys is more or less the same as Judgment Day, which is about trying to stop Judgment Day, or Genisys, or whatever they want to call it next time (i.e., Dark Fate). But it works because despite obviously leaning towards another Judgment Day ending, the movie has a few serviceable set-pieces (not great, but not bad either), playful call-backs to previous movies (“Come with me if you wanna live,” “I’ll be back”), and a few nice additions (“Rule this!” “John Connor talks too much” “Did you mate?”), granddad Arnie’s smiling face, and probably the best part of the movie, is when T-800 asks Kyle Reese to “protect MY Sarah” like a real granddad, all while he’s stuck in a blender. Man, that felt like that scene with the young John Connor near the end of Terminator 2. 👍

So, haven’t seen Genisys yet? It isn’t bad. Maybe not or just as good as T3: Rise of the Machines, but it’s worth the trouble. And as far as I’m concerned, there’s only one Terminator movie that’s really underwhelming. And that would be the one starring Christian Bale.

Originally posted on 02 Sep 2019.

Crawl (2019)/ Piranha 3D (2010)/ Horns (2013)

Crawl (2019)
In the middle of a Category 5 hurricane, in their old house by the lake, Haley and her father find themselves trapped in the flooded crawl space. And they must fight for their lives against some hungry predators. The tension never lets up in Alexandre Aja’s claustrophobic horror movie. The suspense slowly builds up as the floodwater rises from the crawl space to the attic. The alligator attacks are scary, fucking scary. The building tension and the many close calls will make you hold on to your seat. And there’s one ingenious sequence where an alligator ends up being trapped in bathroom. It helps that Haley (Kaya Scodelario) is a swimmer, and her relationship with her estranged father (Barry Pepper) is hinged on this. He was her coach when she was young, and used to encourage her with this ‘apex predator’ shit, which gets a life-affirming callback, when Kaya declares “Apex predator all day, baby!” later in the final third. I’ll give this a five out of five awesome alligator clips.

Piranha 3D (2010)
When underwater earthquake is caused by a beer bottle being dropped in a lake, thousands of flesh-eating piranhas are unleashed into the water not so far from a town during spring break. Horny spring breakers, pornstars and pornographers, and fucktards who won’t make like a tree when told to stay out of the water—they’re the piranhas’ victims. Promiscuity is the cardinal sin and death-by-piranhas is the punishment. The town’s sheriff (Elisabeth Shue) and her deputies try to get everyone to safety (the operative word being “try”). While her eldest, together with his two young siblings, are trapped in a boat somewhere in the lake. Yes, like Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, this is about a family trying to survive, wading through piranhas, bloodied water, and dead bodies. And there’s probably more blood spilled here than in Saving Private Ryan‘s Omaha Beach D-Day sequence. Not to be mistaken with its reportedly awful sequel Piranha 3DD (2012), this loose remake of the Joe Dante original just have the right amount of boobs, blood, and fun. And it’s not to be missed if you’re fan of gore-filled horror comedies.

Horns (2013)
Ignatius or Ig (Daniel Radcliffe, still looking like that boy wizard only with facial hair) one day discovers horns sprouting out of his temple. Horns that give him some paranormal abilities i.e., he can force people to reveal their deepest desires and darkest secrets. Special powers which should come handy in solving movie’s central mystery: the death of his ex-girlfriend Merrin (Juno Temple), for which he is the primary suspect. She was murdered the same night that she dumped him. “Are you horny?” Merrin asks Ig at one point. This movie works best when it’s darkly funny, when Ig’s horns makes people horny, do crazy stuff, or brutally honest (his father tells Ig he’s worthless). One time he goes to the doctor to get his horns amputated, he wakes up to the moans of the nurse and the surgeon banging each other on a swivel chair. But this movie’s mainly a whodunit, with psychological, supernatural, and religious elements in the mix. With a bit of Nicholas Sparks-y romance too. It doesn’t quite work as a whole, occasionally funny but tonally inconsistent. Watch this only if you’re curious how horny Hairy Potter is (or how hairy Horny Peter is) in this movie.

Ekis (1999)/ Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles (2012)/ Dos Ekis (2001)

Ekis (1999)
Erik Matti’s second film is about a group of kidnappers, in hiding and waiting for the ransom money. Tagalized Tarantino this quite isn’t, more like Peque Gallaga meets John Woo’s heroic bloodshed, with reams of dialogues from formulaic 90’s pinoy action movies finally put to good use. It’s a variation on the heist-gone-wrong type with a cast that doesn’t need to be color-coded to be memorable. Hot-headed and mutinous Roger (Raymond Bagatsing) is a hoot, especially around the usually reserved Gene (Albert Matinez), who’s seemingly torn between his criminal wrongdoings and the promise of escape to a normal life. A sense of normalcy, is what he gets it seems, every time he goes to Dolor (Sunshine Cruz) to do the “dirty work” — um, y’know, fixing pipe leaks, changing the fridge bulb, cleaning the aquarium. This may not be on par with Matti’s later works (On the Job, Honor Thy Father) but it’s occasionally funny. The look on their faces when they find two dead bodies in the trunk — priceless. For an action movie, this has, well, sex and violence. And there’s one scene clearly inspired by Polanski’s Lunes de fiel. This has the looks of a decent noir-ish thriller i.e., one can almost smell the dark dingy corners of the group’s hideout. And one thing you can count on in most of Matti’s movies, is that the sets are mostly detailed, look real, feel real — even if the plot/story sometimes doesn’t.

Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles (2012)
Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles is a horror story within another. It’s ‘meet the parents’ horror comedy within the bigger aswang story. Good-for-nothing boyfriend/husband and domineering matriarch, tropes maybe older than John en Marsha, are both served and subverted. And this has aswang lore that’s probably never used before in other aswang movies (i.e., an aswang turned himself into a pig and sold to the unsuspecting family). Jokes about giant wooden fork and spoon and Lipps candies are references definitely older than internet jokes about computer mouse and hard-boiled eggs. This is both fun and clumsy in the same way Gwapings: The First Adventure was. The use of pesticide sprayer and Boy Bawang blowgun is quite a hoot but the mostly CGI buntot-pagi disappoints. The movie’s shot entirely in chroma key and it looks okay considering they didn’t have Hollywood budget. Though I wish Erik Matti stuck with actors/make-up/practical effects, instead of purely CGI monsters, the same way Richard Somes did with the similarly-themed Lihim Ng San Joaquin.

Dos Ekis (2001)
Benito (Mark Anthony Fernandez) is a hardware store worker who frequents a nightclub just to see Charisse (Rica Peralejo), one of the club’s buxom dancers. An altercation between Charisse and her pimp Bunny (a pre-Heneral Luna John Arcilla) turns into a riot when Benito gets involved, and the two ends up running away with the club’s money. If the first movie has somewhat memorable characters, Dos Ekis is saddled with seemingly bored passive characters, and imposing but ultimately disposable villains. Instead of the amusing back-and-forths in the first, this has villains making lengthy monologues (John Arcilla’s pimp and Godfather figure played by Celso Ad. Castillo). But again, the set design is something to look at. Bunny’s nightclub is all lights, smoke, and mirrors. And Benito’s bedspace is located behind the silverscreen in an old theater — he can watch movies for free but the images are reversed. This doesn’t offer much in terms of story or characters. But there’s a steamy dance number in a makeshift shower that recalls both Ekis and Burlesk Queen. And there’s an extended sex on a couch while in the background, Ang Utol Kong Hoodlum II plays on the movie screen.

Minsan sa may Kalayaan

You’ve probably read the news by now. The latest Eraserheads cheese to reach your feeds. That “Minsan” wasn’t really abut ‘them’. That ‘them’ were never really ‘friends’. And people are losing their minds, on Facebook and Twitter. Never had the time nor the interest to read most of the reactions. So, just like those who probably didn’t read the news article and just based their own emotional response to those catchy click-bait headlines and taken out of context tweets, I’m reacting to those reactions — like a reaction video to a reaction video. I’m not about to re-read all those tweets and whatnots in the comment section. I’m straight out jumping to a conclusion.

Now, there are two things to this ‘issue’. I didn’t really check the podcast because, well, read above. But based on the news article I read, this whole shebang was set into motion when Ely Buendia tried to explain the real true meaning behind the song “Minsan” and how the song’s sentimentality makes him cringe. But what most writers picked up for their headlines was the second thing — not the fact that the song wasn’t about them, but the reason why it wasn’t about them.

Well, I don’t have much left inside my tank today. And I don’t have the time to explain to you with a venn diagram the complex overlapping circles of friendship, passion, professionalism, etc. or the different levels of friendship. It’s not a simple yes or no, friends or not friends, love or hate. Why do people love to reduce everything to a false dichotomy? It’s complicated. But Facebook doesn’t have that kind of ‘status’ anymore.

Remember Orange & Lemons? They were friends. Then, they hated each other. Now, they’re friends again. And Buendia actually provided enough context to this friends vs. not friends thing. He said they weren’t like Itchyworks and Paworkya Ni Edgar. Wait, my boss is calling…

Still can’t get over what he said? Okay, they were friends. But not really close friends. Maybe not as close as Ely was to FrancisM. I dunno. According to Raymund during his Wasak interview, they were friends, but they didn’t hang out together. Hindi sila tropa, ‘di sila barkada. They weren’t like Pedicab or Sandwich.

Eraserheads back when they were not really friends.

That “Minsan” wasn’t really about ‘them’ doesn’t really surprise me. Well, there’s not much that surprises me anymore. Unless something comes up like, an ex-girlfriend calling or texting me in the middle of night to tell me she’s pregnant. Now, that would be surprising. But I digress. Here are some clues that ‘Minsan’ was actually about Ely’s ‘other’ friends. Found it from some online forums years ago. For some reasons, I saved it to my computer. I’m still searching which website I copied it from. This was posted by one of Ely’s friends.

nok nek, on Feb 7 2006, 04:39 PM, said:

I met Ely while studying at the University of the Philippines.  There were several of us who hung around together.  Ely, Manok (Ely’s roommate), Irl, Tano, Redel, Ogie, Chappy or Paeng (depending on who you were talking to at the time), Efren, Luci (short for Lucifer because we all thought he was the nth coming of the anti-Christ), Mondski and myself.  We all lived in Kalayaan Residence Hall, the freshmen dormitory at UP.  Everyone of us in the group, except Luci and Ogie, lived on the 3rd floor.  Yeah, we did a lot of drinking then and every night was isaw night because all they served at Kalayaan was tinolang itlog.  The isaw vendor across the street, wedged between the Coop and, I think, the street entrance to Area 1, let us drink liquor by his stand, mostly bilogs and flats because we did not have enough money for beer. We’d stay there until Kalayaan curfew (kind of an oxymoron isn’t it, Kalayaan and curfew) then I’d shove all of our leftover libations into my gym bag.  Ely, Tano and Paeng would distract Ate Elves ( the security guard ) while I passed through the main door so she would not notice the clanking sounds inside my bag.  Ely and the other guys would stick around the lobby cavorting with the females and generally making, pa-cute, until last bell rang and it was really time to retire for the night.

In truth the night, for us, was just beginning.  After bed check, we would all make our way towards Ely’s and Manok’s room towards the end of the hallway.  We drank whatever liquor we had left while listening to Ely and Luci play the guitar and sing songs by the Cure, U2, REM, Siouxsie and the Banshees and the like.  We engaged in useless banter and, sometimes, worthwhile discussions confronting the “Isko ng Bayan.”  For example, thoughful advocacy of how a big boob girl really was more appealing than a cute perky butt girl or vice versa; philosophical, if we thought that one person was an ahole, in all probability that person was an ahole;  physics, how the hell does one particular big boob girl keep from falling forward dragged by all that weight; literature, critiques of Cactus Jack’s vandal wars against NDF (we all thought that CJ was Ely), written and posted behind almost every bathroom stall door on the 3rd floor, etc. When we were bored, we simply pointed Efren’s binoculars towards the Yakal’s girls’ wing, the upperclassmen dormitory right across us, and were treated to shows quite like no other.  We stayed up all night most of the time.  Those nights are still vivid in my mind.    I left UP at the end of my sophomore year, 1989. As children, we were carefree and saw nothing as it really was.

Years later, I heard from Irl, he became a UP Concert Chorus member and toured the States with them, that Ely had made it big with a band.  Ely and I met in Chicago, where I lived, around 1998 when the Eraserheads toured the US.  I went to one of their scheduled autograph signings. We both had so much stories to tell. He had kept in touch with most of the guys.  I knew Ely as a friend and I was so happy for him.

As I left that meeting to pick up my then girlfriend from work, I turned my radio to the National Public Radio station.  I caught the last verses of a poetry reading which, looking back, I think reflects the times that the Eraserheads sang in their songs:

“I learned about life from life itself.
Love, I learned in a single kiss,
And could teach no one nothing.
Except that I have lived
With something in common among men,
In fighting with them
And in saying all their say in their songs.”

It seems that my friend has said what he’s had to say in songs and it has brought you all far more riches in life than troves of treasure.  For their songs remain in your heart and though they may be significant to each of us for different reasons, their significance derives from each of the lives that we have led and in each of its part that we have met.

My apologies for quite a lengthy post.  Be well.

Header image from here o.

The Night Comes For Us (2018)/ Honor Thy Father (2015)/ The Yellow Sea (2010)

The Night Comes For Us (2018)
Underneath all the carnage, this is actually about something. It’s about Ito (Joe Taslim) trying to save himself — by saving the little girl Reina (Asha Kenyeri Bermudez). It’s about two friends who dreamt of “making it big” by joining the Triad — big brother Ito warning the younger Arian (Iko Uwais) not to make same mistakes he did. “Don’t join the Triad. Been there and it wasn’t all that great. There are chicks, booze, and stuff all around but ain’t got time for that, because all we do is traffic drugs and kill [mostly] innocent people.” Okay, he didn’t really say that. It seems that way anyway. Ito probably couldn’t even enjoy a good lay anymore, or have a guilt-free sleep at night. See, it’s not easy being one of the bad guys, with all this “guilt and conscience” stuff eating you inside. So when Ito saw a glimpse of redemption in Reina, he took a 180 degrees turn (also, literally) — killed his men, took the girl, went into hiding. And what follows is a zombie apocalypse — minus the zombies — a series of action setpieces, meticulously crafted as they are horrifyingly graphic, with all sorts of bad people trying to get their hands on Reina, Ito, and his friends. Most of the fights are pretty bonkers, with blood and violence, dialed to eleven. The two-against-one brawl between Julie, Alma and Elena is definitely one for the books. And for the movie’s final fight, well, I’d probably never look at a box cutter the same way ever again.

Honor Thy Father (2015)
Kaye and Edgar get caught in financial ruin after being involved in an investment scam. The promise of get-rich-quick suddenly becomes a living nightmare, when Kaye’s father turns up dead, the money, all gone. And their friends, co-parishioners at the Church of Yeshua, quickly turns on them, demanding their money back. But they are just small fry compared to some influential people, demanding a much bigger sum from the couple, in exchange for their daughter’s safety, and eventually, their lives. As a devoted member of the church, Kaye pleads for help. “Yeshua will provide,” said the Bishop. But he can’t help them, the money isn’t his, it’s the church’s. This leaves Edgar with only few options. Even so, he still sees to it that he goes with the lesser evil, until he’s cornered with no other option but the worst. Honor Thy Father is not something good to watch when you’re worrying about something or after stressful day at work. The movie makes little difference between scam investments and toxic religious groups. It gets a little too real sometimes, too close to home (i.e., financial troubles, sans the death threats of course). It is that good. An assuredly paced thriller that’s able to sustain its edge-of-your-seat atmosphere for long. A bleak crime drama with a little bit of The Bank Job, minus Princess Margaret’s naked pictures in a vault. It’s thrilling and despairing at the same time. And that ending, man, that ending. Really powerful stuff.

The Yellow Sea (2010)
Taxi driver Gu-nam is in serious debt. And he’s yet to hear from his wife, who left months ago to work in South Korea. Worse, he’s having nightmares of her being with another man. When local gangster Myun Jung-hak offers him a job to be able to settle his debt, he takes his chances. The job, go to South Korea and carry out a hit; his target, a professor named Kim Seung-hyun, later revealed to be gangster. When the hit doesn’t go as planned (turns out there’s more than one party who wanted Kim dead) Gu-nam finds himself running away from the cops, the gangsters, and eventually, from Myun, who travels to Korea to tie up the loose ends. Triple-crossed by Myun, and with no chance to return to Yanji, Gu-nam makes it his goal to find out who actually hired him (Myun was a middleman). The Yellow Sea works best when it’s a tight crime thriller, particularly in the first and second act. When it switches to gangster mode, it gets a little overbearing, especially when they bring out their axes/knives for the nth time. Whether or not it’s saying ‘this is how gun control looks like,’ this movie features, almost exclusively, knives, and the stabbiest of fights. Beneath the nihilistic bloodshed, it doesn’t seem to say much. And if there’s anything Gu-nam learns in the end, it’s probably that some men will go at great lengths, when they learn they’re being cheated on by their wives.

DOA: Dead or Alive (2006)/ Mortal Kombat (2021)/ Mortal Kombat (1995)

DOA: Dead or Alive (2006)
DOA: Dead or Alive is one of those rare movies usually found in the bargain bins that gives you exactly what the cover says — sometimes more, depending on which DVD cover you got. It’s a video game-movie that knows fully well what it is. Story may be as flimsy as the kimono Devon Aoki wears early in the movie but the fight scenes are oftentimes sharp — like the katana that cuts the said kimono in half, in the movie’s opening sequence. Aoki plays ninja/princess, out for her missing brother, and Jaime Pressly is a pro-wrestler who wants to prove she can do better than fake-fights. And Holly Valance, well, she’s got the best introductory part, where she beats up some cops in a hotel room while putting on her panties and bra. There’s fair amount of fanservice in this movie, but it also has some ‘girl power’ vibes. The girls of DOA can definitely kick some serious ass. The fights may not be as great as Corey Yuen’s work in So Close, but competent enough for fans of the genre, and with sexy ninja babes to make up for it. There’s a swordfight in the middle of bamboo trees that’s House of Flying Daggers-worthy. And there’s also a sexy volleyball match on the beach! Some of the fights may be goofy (e.g., the final fight with Julia Robert’s brother), but there’s just enough good stuff to keep it fast, furious, and fun. DOA is a good-bad movie that’s terrible and terribly good at the same time.

Mortal Kombat (2021)
Video game franchise gets some Marvel-like upgrade in this new movie that combines CGI, superhero fights, and characters’ origin stories — most memorable of them, is of one mouthy side character who shoots beams from his eye. Yes, talking about Kano because the heroes were kind of bland. Compared with the first movie, this has better action, better fights. That the VFX and the sets are quite impressive, is pretty much a given, it’s already 2021. Still, I thought Joe Taslim (The Raid, The Night Comes For Us) was somewhat wasted in this one. The frequent cutting during the fight scenes seems to hide most of the hits, which is disappointing given that most of the cast could actually fight. Fans of the 1995 Paul (before he earned his “W.S.”) Anderson movie will find plenty things familiar. For one, it’s the same “chosen ones not quite ready to be heroes yet” all over again. Plus the odd choice of putting one new character at its center, with Deadpool 2 punchline/Shatterstar actor in the role, in a costume that seems to be a cross between Black Panther’s and Aquaman’s. Which gave me second thoughts on whether it would’ve been better if the movie focused more instead, on the game’s two most popular characters, whose origin story of sorts in the opening minutes, packs action, pathos, and blood — the combination of all three, the movie was never able to deliver for the rest of its running time.

Mortal Kombat (1995)
There’s hardly any exciting combat in here, much less mortal danger. Unless, you fear that Sonya Blade will get killed (in the movie, highly unlikely) or get hurt for real (which is likely), because fight Bridgette Wilson obviously can’t. Ditto with Linden Ashby as Johnny Cage, martial artist/Hollywood actor who’s so eager to prove that those fights in his movies weren’t fake, that he’s a legit martial artist. And then figures in yet another silly looking fight that’s incompetently staged — maybe an unintended self-reference, in a movie seemingly not afraid to make fun of itself. Obviously, only three (or four) characters in the movie can actually fight: Liu Kang, Sub-Zero, Scorpion, maybe, Reptile. The movie’s a bit of a dozy in parts. And all you can do is try not to shut your eyes and think pray hard Princess Kitana (model-actress Talisa Soto, lovely) is in every fight. By the way, when the hell did Raiden/Rayden become a white guy? Did all those years of beheading Immortals finally earned Connor MacLeod a seat with the gods? I don’t know, there isn’t really much in here. Well, at least Liu Kang gets to do his bicycle kick (I heard there isn’t a single “sonic boom” in that Street Fighter movie starring Jean Claude Van Damme), and Johhny Cage gets the funniest lines.

Bounty Killer (2013)/ Willy’s Wonderland (2021)/ Jiu Jitsu (2020)

Bounty Killer (2013)
Bounty Killer is a post-apocalyptic action comedy about celebrity assassins who hunt the yellow-tied corporate criminals responsible for the apocalypse. Celebrity assassins, bounty hunters who compete for fame, body count, and um, bounties. While also trying to put an end to the plague of corporate greed. Because it isn’t really capitalism that’s bad — as the movie seems to imply anyway — it’s greed. For a movie based on a graphic novel most likely inspired by Mad Max movies, it looks and sounds like a graphic novel comes to life. This movie looks cool, and our heroine Mary Death (Christian Pitre), is sexy, dangerous, and maybe not just a little bit objectified. Our hero, Drifter (Matthew Marsden), kind of looks like Tom Hardy in that other George Miller movie. The deaths are bloody gory and the action is well-done, sick, cool and fun. The vintage cars looks, um, vintage. And cool. Bounty Killer is high octane, sexy, mindless fun. But it struggles to be funny, as much as it struggles to generate any tension or drama, or even have an interesting plot within its simplistic view of retribution and corporate greed. Bounty Killer is a good-looking B-movie that’s just happy to sit idly within the confines of a B-movie. It’s OK-ish, I guess. If only the jokes and one-liners were memorable and funny.

Willy’s Wonderland (2021)
When his car breaks down, a quiet loner (Nic Cage) agrees to clean an abandoned family fun center in exchange for repairs. He soon finds himself waging war against possessed animatronic mascots while trapped inside Willy’s Wonderland. Willy’s Wonderland is the type of movie that possesses the deadly combination of Nicolas Cage doing Nicolas Cage-y stuff and horny/stupid teenagers diving head on to their deaths. If you can take either or both, plus the old school appeal of animatronics and practical effects, then this action horror movie might be for you. Nic Cage just cleans countertops, toilets, etc., takes a break, drinks soda, plays pinball, and then fights and kills animatronic mascots one at a time. Wash, rinse, repeat. While the stupid teens who went there to save him do nothing but die bloody gory deaths one after another. It’s kind of boring actually. It is a little fun the first few times. Then it just gets repetitive and predictable as it goes. By the way, Cage never speak a word in this movie. Probably one of the cooler thing he’s ever done in his entire career. The not speaking, not the movie.

Jiu Jitsu (2020)
Every six years, an ancient order of jiu-jitsu fighters join forces to battle a vicious race of alien invaders. “Why?” Because said aliens brought jiu-jitsu to Earth. And they want to fight Earth’s best jiu-jitsu fighters. “What!?” Nevermind. Jiu Jitsu has Tony Jaa, Frank Grillo, and some other guys. I’m not really sure how this got made. But one thing I’m sure of, this is not “Mortal Ong-Bak”. Jiu Jitsu is probably the slightest among my recently seen action movies. It’s a martial arts-Predator rip-off that’s probably even worse than the worst Predator movie. This looks like just a series of stunts to me, with corny graphic novel chapter breaks and lazily written dialogues in between. You might be better off watching other videos online than this (e.g., parkour stuff, clips from better movies, etc). This is quite bad. Not even sword-wielding Nicolas Cage could make this worth wasting your time.

Underwater (2020)

Underwater opens with an earthquake destroying a research/drilling facility miles deep in the ocean. Led by their captain (Vincent Cassel), the survivors (Kristen Stewart, Jessica Henwick, Deadpool‘s TJ Miller) must get out of the rubble and walk across the sea floor to be able to get to the remaining escape pods in another station. Kristen Stewart plays the engineer, she fixes things, computers, back up power, UPS, etc. Jessica Henwick, the scientist, and TJ Miller, the comic relief. He provides the punch line about a missing punch line in the movie.

Some would say Alien in Mariana Trench. You can take that as a knock and compliment both. The plot may be recycled from this and that movie but as a horror film, it works. I think the setting is one of the reasons why. We’re more familiar with the outer space, zero gravity, space walk, etc. than with the ocean floor and its mostly unseen creatures (unless you’re into Animal Planet). Real sea creatures are sometimes even more “alien” and scary than the fictional space aliens. The sight of a huge octopus can be just as alarming as that of the algae-like thingies floating in the dark of the ocean.

Walking on ocean floor in bulky pressure suits where you have you limited movement and visibility? Good luck with that. You won’t easily see if this ugly sea creature is floating just from behind your back. On the plus side, you have to strip to your underwear to fit in to that pressurized suit. And TJ Miller in his tattered boxers is a sight to behold. Some may have complained that some scenes are too dark and/or that the action scenes are a bit confusing but that is actually the point.

Underwater has a B-movie plot, but it gets an A for atmosphere (atmospheric pressure?) and VFX and maybe, C for characterization. It delivers on cheap thrills, if that’s what you’re after. And for movie that’s set in the vastness of the ocean, there are moments where it managed to be so goddamned claustrophobic.

10 Popular Songs That You Hate

Remember the time when they were promoting The Click Five on TV? Like this pop-rock (boy)band with emo haircuts and play their own instruments is probably the next big thing? I don’t really remember in what year that was, but I had the impression then they we’re trying to make this band go big mainly for their boyband/rockstar looks more than the hooks in their songs — if there were any to begin with. Based on their Wiki page, the band faded into obscurity within two years and after the release of their second album. Too bad, fans in Southeast Asia were just catching up to the pop rock “goodness” their second album offered (via hits “Jenny” and “Happy Birthday”), around the same time band was already processing their impending breakup.

What all this has to do with songs that I hate? Well, both “Jenny” and “Happy Birthday” aren’t really my idea of good pop/rock songs. They’re kind of OK-ish, I guess. But they’re pretty much close to the type of songs that I usually hate. They’re the kind of bland, generic, looks-over-hooks type of songs, not to mention hooks that reveals themselves only after you hear them for the tenth time. Which usually works for any decent song actually; just play it over and over and listeners will get hooked to it. That’s what the DJs get paid for. The reason I did not include them on the list is because they weren’t overplayed enough, at least as far as my listening experience is concerned.

Now, here’s the top 10 songs that I hate, ranked from worse to worst.

What Makes You Beautiful, One Direction. I never really hated this song. I think it came out at the time when I was already able to somehow avoid music that I don’t like. At the same time boybands were already passe at this point, like these boys were in a “boyband”, but not same as it was in the ’90s (Backstreet Boys, N’Sync) and the ’00s (Westlife). And that, they’re probably aware of. Which is probably why their music videos are a tinny bit more tolerable than anything by the Backstreet Boys. No shirtless chest-thumping choruses with funny facial expressions — just them goofing around in front of camera. And I only discovered this when I watched the MV last night. And they also made a cover of Blondie’s “One Way Or Another”, which for a boyband, I’d admit, is actually kind of a cool.

Okay, so why include it in the list then? Because like “Jenny”, it’s bland, generic, looks over hooks kind of thing. And you know what? The chorus is so hummable — not — not until you hear it for the tenth time. And that opening line isn’t really the most melodic thing you’d ever hear. “You’re insecure, duh duh duh duh.” Oh, man, I swear Dunkirk would have been a masterpiece if Christopher Nolan had to balls to kill Harry in the movie. Yeah, BSB music videos may be cringe, but some of their songs sing! Unlike this first ever “hit” from One Direction.

I’m Yours, Jason Mraz. Again, I didn’t really hate this song. It’s a simple reggae-ish acoustic love song that almost everyone can sing and relate to. But I hated that it was the most covered song of the century. Imagine if we had TikTok back then. It could’ve been worse. Try, I mean just try, typing the words “jason mraz i’m yours” on Google and I’m sure “ukulele” would come up in the suggestions. Every time I hear this song and people started singing along, I was like, “Hey, haven’t you guys heard better songs? Haven’t you guys heard “You and I Both” or “The Remedy”?” This song has like four chords and structured verse-chorus-verse, it’s very predictable. I wonder how people could listen to it on repeat without getting tired one bit. Don’t most people appreciate Jason Mraz’s weird phrasing in “You and I Both” or they just don’t like it because like me, they couldn’t hit the high notes in the chorus? Well, Mraz must have hated “I’m Yours” as well at some point, as usually the case is for artists who always have to play that one big hit in every occasion.

High, The Speaks. Let me start with the name. The Speaks?! What kind of ridiculous name is that?! I’m thinking, The Shouts would have been less aggravating. And The Yells may have sounded a little bit cool. But The Speaks? The Speaks?! C’mon! Sorry, if you’re a fan of this Fil-Californian “grunge” band. But this song is like warmed-over “grunge” material sung with all the faux earnestness of every post grunge band of this era (i.e., Creed, Staind). Not even the version featuring Barbie Almalbis could salvage this song. Grunge bands from the ’90s were never really this obvious. Never downright silly in their earnestness. By the way, this is from an album called Life’s a Joke. And I think they mean that seriously. Maybe some sort of philosophical statement or something. I mean, just look at these lyrics, these guys definitely mean business, they’re dead serious: Will it ever be? I’ve tried so hard to find sweet serenity. Are you still afraid? Just close your eyes and dream, and fear will fade away. Sweet serenity? I suppose it takes an awful lot of strength to sing this song and keep a straight face at the same time.

Pagdating ng Panahon, Aiza Seguerra. I didn’t really care if Aiza wrote her songs or not but I was slightly surprised when I learned that the people behind this song were the same people responsible for most of The Company’s tepid “hits.” Wait, never heard of The Company? Well, I’m not really surprised (but I kind of have a soft spot for “Muntik Na Kitang Minahal,” maybe you know that song). The fact that it was Aiza who sang it, and not some group who sound like some random church choir on regular Sunday mass, probably spelled the difference. I wouldn’t really hate this song if it was just a minor hit. But it WAS NOT. Those jologs FM radio DJs couldn’t seem to get enough of it. And they played it almost every hour, everyday, opens and closes their radio programs with it. And then play it again during the weekly countdowns. Gaad! I am not even considering the AM stations yet. TV? Oh, fuck nooooo!

Rainbow, South Border. I remember when I used to listen to this radio program where they play songs from local rock bands. And then in between Slapshock and Parokya Ni Edgar, the DJ would play this song. And I hated it for that. And I would’ve probably smashed my old radio there and then if I had the money and resources to buy a new one. But I didn’t have. So what I’d do is just switch to the other stations or wait in agony for the song to end. “Rainbow” is one of those songs that didn’t really sound like a hit. I mean, I understand why R.Kelly’s “Ignition”, Brian McKnight’s “Back At One” and Freestyle’s “So Slow” and “This Time” were hits, huge hits, but not this one.

Lips of An Angel, Hinder. Again, I didn’t really hate this song, until… I saw the music video. And it’s like the most cringe thing I ever saw up to that point. It was as if the band’s singer was trying SO HARD to out-Steven Tyler Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler. Only he ended up like a worse, less manly version of Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger. Well, just look at the singer’s mouth. It’s so big he could probably hide a microphone in there (by the way, Tyler’s bigger but, well, he’s a legend so). And he looks like he’s gonna have a nervous breakdown any minute throughout the song. And the band, man, the band. They looked like they came out from Hot Tub Time Machine straight from the ’80s. What is this, some kind of pussy metal band?

I actually felt bad that Emmanuelle Chriqui was in this music video. To think that both Liv Tyler and Alicia Silverstone starred in one or two Aerosmith music videos back in the ’90s. And those songs were actually good. This — this sounds like a bad imitation of those songs. Maybe you’re wondering why Hinder is here but not Nickelback. Well, I only truly know one Nickelback song, it’s “How You Remind Me” and I don’t think it’s actually bad. Probably the only decent song by them. And I can’t hate on Nickelback, there’s already plenty of that in the webspace. Also, only virgins hate on Nickelback, and that is according to Chad Kroeger.

Wherever You Will Go, The Calling. This song hasn’t reached the notoriety of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” yet, and I don’t want to be the one to start that kind of “trend.” Well, I don’t have a gun nor do I carry a knife whenever I go to fiestas, birthdays or any occasion with videoke sessions, but please, just please, people, stop singing this song. ‘Cause only time can tell when that plastic knife used to slice the birthday cake becomes handy. I remember one DJ back then saying something like, The Calling was to Pearl Jam as Puddle of Mudd was to Nirvana. I’d probably smashed the radio then if I had money to buy a new one. That DJ, he was so wrong, very wrong. I don’t know how’s that DJ nowadays. Sana, masarap palagi ulam n’ya.

This song, as well any other hit from this faux rock band who calls himself/themselves The Calling, is probably the epitome of everything bad about post-grunge during the ’00s (e.g., 3Doors Down’s “Here Without You”, Hoobastank’s “The Reason”). Well, not all of them were bad i.e., some of Lifehouse’s materials have actually aged well (“You and Me”). Wait, I haven’t mentioned about the song’s music video yet. Well, it’s really awful. Like, Backstreet Boys-music videos-are still better than this-awful. See for yourself.

Thinking Out Loud, Ed Sheeran. Before you start typing that hundred-word Ed Sheeran defense that when summed up, only says one thing — that I’m a hater — hear me out, I think the chorus of “Photographs” is actually good. And I actually approved of “Perfect” just recently. Well, my friends were about to get hitched, and asked me if “Perfect” would be good as their wedding song. And since I couldn’t say “No” because they are my friends and I don’t want to delay their wedding any further, so that they could finally share that sweet first night together, I said, “That? Oh, that’s a great song. It’s perfect!” Then afterwards, I secretly opened my phone and searched for the song on YouTube. And you know what, not that bad. At least it’s better than “Thinking Out Loud.” But I didn’t like it. Maybe I would’ve suggested that Moira song instead, if they weren’t my friends. But knowing that they both really liked “Perfect”, I gave it my half-hearted thumbs up.

Going back to “Thinking Out Loud,” it’s not really a bad song, but for a No.1 hit, it is truly underwhelming. Lyrically, it’s actually bad. Quite bad. And I’m not going to tell you how and why, because somebody already did. Dissected the lyrics and extracted the untruthfulness in it. Is it melodic? Is it something that sticks to your head? No and no. It’s just outrageously bland through and through. But why was it such a big hit? Maybe the generation of fans who liked this song just needed something “sweet”, some sort of a serenade that they never got from the other stuff they were into at the time, whether it was EDM or whatever fad.

I think that is the key, that fans of this song “needed” it (like that Anne Murray song), and it came to them at the right time. And it’s only a matter time and a matter of listening to more songs, better songs, until they realize that this song wasn’t all that great. Of course, it would be different if one has already attached many things to the song — things like first crush, first love, first communion, first wedding, first divorce, first deflowering, first cigarette puff, first date, first movie experience since the pandemic, first time to get really drunk, etc. If that’s the case, then it would be different.

Pump Up Kicks, Foster the People. At least this song is actually about something, about that quiet kid with a gun. Well, I used to have trouble trying to figure out what to do with my life. You could say I was confused as fuck as a teenager. But I was never more confused my whole life than the time I found out that this was the No. 1 song on the MYX chart. I was like, what the fuck? This is the current best song, the best indie-pop song , the cream of crap? But this is just so BLAND. That if you get Ed Sheeran really drunk and have him join the boys of One Direction and they had an orgy, this would have been their baby. Its mildly catchy mildly generic chorus and mildly boring, even more generic verses. And the instrumentation, minimal as fuck. That’s it, I’m quitting radio, TV, MTV and all. I’ll just download the songs that I want from internet. I cannot live with whatever is popular anymore. And then I stormed off the house and sold my sister’s TV to the second-hand shop. And we never watched MYX or MTV after that ever again. Then, my sister bought a new flatscreen TV. But we only used it for watching movies on DVD.

Billionaire, Travie McCoy feat. Bruno Mars. Yes, one of the worst one-hit wonders ever. I don’t know if it’s the thought of wanting to be a billionaire that made me hate this or it’s because the song is just this super generic pop-rap-reggae mash-up. Maybe both. And I was even more disgusted that it became one of the biggest hit at the time. It was played on the radio, in parties, on TV — fuck, it was almost inescapable. The next thing you know everyone I know in the office were joining multi-level marketing and singing this song at parties. The thought that it’s OK to become filthy rich, to want to “become a billionaire, so freakin’ bad” and that my friends are actually cool with it, made me hate this song even more. Okay, those things about my friends, I only made them up, but I still hate this song to no end.

Okay, enough with the hate. Here’s something better than pump up kicks!

Boss Level (2021)

This comic book/video game/action movie/time loop mash-up is better than any of the MCU movies with Frank Grillo in it (The Winter Soldier, Civil War, Endgame). There I said it. Eat my shorts, you die-hard MCU fans!

Frank Grillo plays Roy Pulver, a retired Delta Force soldier trapped in a time loop. Movie opens with him narrating how he has lived the same day for more than a hundred times already. And he always ends up dead. So he’s basically Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. The movie basically plays like a video game (not a sidescroller, but something a little more advanced than your favorite 8-bit). He dies, he goes back to the start. But with the knowledge of the previous day.

Little by little, he learns how to navigate thru the plot, like which bugged tooth he has to pull out or how to beat this woman assassin who has shot him in the head (or crotch, depending on her mood) many times before. Not to mention she did it using Adolf Hitler’s gun. “That’s for the Jews.” Haha, funny. Especially when you think that the big bad boss is played by a seemingly self-aware Mel Gibson.

And that’s the primary source of the movie’s awesome/funny/thrilling moments. Either the numerous deaths Roy has to go through, or the times when he’s figured out how to outwit the assasins and beat them at their own game. Oh, the joy of finally getting past what used to be the hardest stage of the game. Only to get himself decapitated on the next by Guan Yin (Selena Lo), in what is probably the most hilarious sequence in the whole movie.

Here comes Roy, guns blazing in both hands — and missing his target: a walk-on-the walls-fly-in-the-air sword mistress, who always ends up cutting him with her sword, which is really sharp. “Is it a katana?” Gibson asks. Roy ends up dead a few more times. Until he took lessons from Michelle Yeoh. What follows though is probably the least convincing fight in the movie. Not really a spoiler, but he was able to beat Guan Yin at last. And without much difficulty. But that’s OK — at least Roy gets to make a Raiders of Lost Ark reference in the earlier sequence.

While it may seem that the [almost] non-stop action and the running gag (of Roy dying in varying state of silly gory deaths) are the movie’s first priority, Boss Level is no slouch either when it comes to giving the main character a compelling backstory. This is where Jemma and Joe comes in, his ex-wife and son, played by Noami Watts and Rio Grillo (Frank’s real life son). Not only do these two characters give Roy a grounded backstory and clear motivation, they also help in giving the movie a story that’s worth following until the end.

Yes, the world’s going to end in no time. So what? We’ve seen that already in other movies many times before. So how is it any different this time? Well, it’s different. Because it’s different when it’s about saving people you care about, instead of just saving the world. And this is what separates Boss Level from other similar movies with good action, cartoonish violence, and world-ending threat but very little heart. Just like the T-800, Sarah and John Connors in Judgment Day, this movie centers its world-ending/future-altering conflict on the relationships (or the lack thereof) between the absentee father, his ex-wife, and son. And this, for me, elevates this movie to… um, the “Boss Level” of action movies.

8 Films: Science Fiction

Looper (2012). Deadpool 2 owes as much to Looper as it does Terminator 2. And like Deadpool 2, some things in Looper may not make sense when you really think about it. But just like Deadpool’s second coming, Looper asks a difficult moral question: Is it right to kill a child, a future criminal, only so you can have your love one(s) back?

Back to the Future (1985). What are you gonna do when you’re suddenly transported back to the past and endangers your own existence? Well, be creative and pretend you’re an alien armed with a Walkman and a dose of ’80s rock/metal. Make sure your parents meet-cute happens. And play “Johnnie B. Goode” during your parents’ school dance, because that would inspire Chuck Berry to write a would be rock and roll classic.

The Thing (1982). There is this bizarre otherworldly quality to animatronics and practical effects that CGI can’t seem to replicate—CGI’s either too perfect, too smooth, or lightweight to be truly terrifying. Most of the time, anyways. It’s also probably because of this, not just the script and the actors, that you could sense the fear, the paranoia, the desperation of the characters in the movie. And that’s the thing with John Carpenter’s, uhm, The Thing, it’s an unrelenting horror movie that’s also part dark comedy.

Donnie Darko (2001). Now this is the kind of mindfuck I’m talking about. It’s science fiction, it’s time travel, it’s a superhero movie. The girl asks: Donnie Darko? What the hell kind of name is that? It’s like some sort of superhero or something. Wait, what makes her think he’s not?

Edge of Tomorrow (2014). If your ovaries don’t jump upon seeing Tom Cruise, say, you’re not the type or he’s not your type, there’s still a lot reasons to watch this. Well, there’s Emily Blunt, for one, and she plays bad ass soldier who once possessed Cruise’s time-resetting power. If only they hadn’t messed with her blood. Maybe not great science fiction, but great solid fun movie. Because there’s nothing more satisfying in a Tom Cruise movie than to see Tom Cruise try, fail and die. Multiple times.

Minority Report (2002). If Edge of Tomorrow isn’t great science fiction, maybe, this one is. Spielberg expand on P.K. Dick’s short story and took it to a different direction, with his usual visual flair and great set-pieces. Dick’s story is a must read (spoiler: there is no true minority report) as this movie is a must-see. And unlike in the book, the Pre-Cogs aren’t babbling idiots.

eXistenZ (1999). Not as cool and sleek as The Matrix or Inception. In fact it looks closer to Cronenberg’s older works, than any similar minded movies from the late ’90s and early ’00s. If there’s one thing eXistenZ does better, it’s in mixing Cronenberg’s sensual body horror with that dream within a dream concept which Christopher Nolan also did in Inception. What is real and what isn’t? Can you tell between bad acting and intentionally bad in-game acting?

Dark City (1998). When Marimba rhythm starts to play, dance with me, make me sway… I love Jennifer Connelly. Dark City is like The Matrix, minus the bullet time and late ’90s rock soundtrack. It’s closer to a Tim Burton movie than to the Wachowski’s stylish wire-fu meets greenscreen/CGI backdrop. The Matrix is also more an action-oriented while Dark City is more like an old arty science fiction film.

The Real True Meaning of Eraserheads’ “Spoliarium”

Ely Buendia finally revealed the real true meaning of “Spoliarium”, to the dismay of fanatical fans, budding conspiracy theorists, and wannabe UP professors. And if you are one of those who used to believe that the myth wasn’t just a myth, that there’s really something behind what’s written on the wall, I’m glad you’re finally beginning to see the light.

What then if you were wrong? Hey man, that’s perfectly fine. I used to believe the members of Bee Gees all died in an air crash. Because my uncle told me so. Only to learn later that they were all well and, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive… ah, ha, ha, ha… Okay, enough. It turns out, it was The Cascades who burned in the plane, not the Bee Gees. Or at least that’s what a lot of Filipino fans thought and believed, until The Cascades resurrected themselves and came to Manila in 2005.

That revelation about “Spoliarium” wasn’t the only headline Buendia found himself in a week ago two weeks ago three weeks ago (Damn! When will I able to finish this?) recently. After revealing that there’s no deep dark secret behind the lyrics of the song, Buendia made another bold sexy R-rated move: releasing “Metro” amidst the extension of this purgatorial lockdown. After disappointing his conspiracy-loving fans, he went on to divide his fans even further. It’s a bold titillating calculated move, which he probably miscalculated.

I said miscalculated not because the song finally made some of his fans reveal in the comment section whether they s*ck their father’s d*ck or not (that’s sock and duck, by the way), which I don’t really care about (all you fanatic fans can lick that ugly motherfucker’s ass all you want) but because that’s some bad company he got there—the people behind this movement. These people asking for change, weren’t they the same people who promised us change years ago?

As for the song, well, it’s just a fucking song, man. As if it could change anything, as if it would be any different if a different group of people were behind it. But taking the song just as it is, maybe it could change minds? Open a few eyes perhaps? In the same way that some people might finally accept the mundane truth behind the myth and not think about Pepsi Paloma the next time they listen to “Spoliarium” on Youtube or Spotify?

Or maybe NOT. Maybe it’s just a litmus test for the fans. I think people already had their minds made up long ago. And while I know a few people who’ve already changed their mind, who can now see thru the bullshit, I don’t think this song would do the same to most people. So, let’s just forget “Metro” for now. And go back to Tin Lazaro and Raf Toledo. Shall we?

“Spoliarium”, or “Spolarium”, as the pretty Christine Lazaro mistakenly referred to the song, is the 14th track on Sticker Happy, the Eraserheads’ “heaviest” album up to that point. Ms. Lazaro was born in January 1998. So, her confusion with the misspelled title is excusable. Her mom was well way into her second trimester when the Eraserheads gave birth to Sticker Sappy via C-section in September 1997.

Within the same week, a friend brought a Sticker Happy cassette in school, and we took turns listening to it. And you know what, we weren’t too crazy about it. Well, some of my friends weren’t too crazy about Fruitcake either. One of them even thought “Styrosnow” was just awful. Or at least they were not as crazy about Fruitcake as I was.

Of course, the thing with Fruitcake is, a lot people, some of my friends included, thought it was exclusively a “Christmas album”, a novelty. That it was one of those one-off thing, that it was not to be considered a proper studio album, like the Christmas albums released by Parokya Ni Edgar, Siakol or Aegis. And that it would be weird to play and listen to it outside of the -ber months. Nevermind the fact that apart from maybe four or five songs (Edit: There are eight songs actually, that are explicitly about Christmastime, and ten which are not), the album isn’t really wholly tied to everything Christmas.

Well, maybe, that’s also the downside of it, people thought it was exclusively a Christmas album and at the same time, the songs in Fruitcake aren’t exactly the type of songs played at Christmas parties, in the malls and other places.

So, we weren’t too crazy about Fruitcake and Sticker Happy. Cutterpillow and Circus were still the kings. Not that Sticker Happy wasn’t accessible, just less so, and the songs were just not as radio-friendly as those in their previous albums. I thought “Spoliarium” was one of the more immediate songs on the album. Unfortunately, it was one of album’s deeper cuts, and requires you to listen to (or fast forward past) “Downtown”, “Kananete”, and “Everything They Say”, before you get to it.

That may be one of the reasons it’s not among my favorite songs off Sticker Happy. Well, it used to be one of my favorites, until I realized how damn hard it is to sing the song on the videoke. And that’s maybe, reason number two. Number three, around the time I tried to sing the song in public (and failed miserably), I read about the UP professor’s theory about the real true meaning of the song. Not long after, I found out about Ms. Karin Araneta’s post on her Multiply, debunking the myth with matter-of-factly account of the night that inspired the song, which I instantly believed to be real true backstory of the song.

While the UP professor’s take may have mystified the song even further for a lot of fans, Karen Araneta’s post had the exact opposite effect on me. It demystified the song. And this kind of lessened the appeal of the song for me. It was just about getting totally wasted. And while I also thought that the line with Enteng and Joey was reference to the TV show hosts/comedians, it wasn’t really that hard to realize that Ely was namedropping different Enteng and Joey. If you read carefully the liner notes on Cutterpillow, you’d definitely find one Joey Cowpunk in there.

Then came Imago’s version of the song, which made the song even more popular that it was in 1997. Suddenly, the song isn’t one of your dirty little secrets anymore. It’s not the deep cut off Sticker Happy anymore; it’s gone mainstream. This is reason number four. I really don’t like this song all that much. Why don’t we just talk about “Kaliwete” instead?

What, you’re here for the real true meaning of “Spoliarium”? It’s all over the news. Go check ’em out.

By the way, have you seen that movie Alone, Together? No? Okay, here’s the real true meaning of “Spoliarium”: Ely, Marcus, Joey Cowpunk, and Enteng hung out with Karen Araneta and Agot Isidro in the latter’s condo in San Juan. Her unit was on the eleventh floor. And she asked Ely if “okey ka lang?” maybe more than once. Maybe it was a question question or maybe a rhetorical one.

“May naghihintay.” This phrase is commonly used in drinking sessions. It’s a signal to go take your shot because the person next to you is waiting for his/her turn. This incantation is a powerful one. It is usually used when the one holding the glass takes a long time to take his shot. Either one is deliberately delaying the round or one just have a lot of jokes and/or stories to tell.

“Tinubuan na ng ugat ‘yong baso”, or one guy holding invisible chisel and mallet to uproot the glass that got stuck on the table are variations of this. Then there’s the cliche “Magtagal na sa suso, ‘wag lang sa baso”, which you’d usually hear in old action movies but not in real life. They all mean the same thing, take the goddamn shot mulfucker! Or as my grandlolo used to say in front of his friends, “Shatana” — the name of her Japanese ex-girlfriend.

Marcus, Ely, Joey, and Enteng drank Goldschlager. Gintong alak. They also lit a jumbo cross-joint Pineapple Express. In short, the went into the night lit AF. I repeat, lit AF. High as a kite and too drunk to fuck. Ewan mo at ewan natin sinong nagpakana. At bakit ba tumilapon ang gintong alak diyan sa paligid mo. Somebody spilled his Goldschlager. Already drunk. Maybe. Later, Ely was said to have had difficulty breathing. Said he felt like dying. Either that or that they were so drunk lying being dragged on the floor, was why he ended up naming the song after the famous Juan Luna painting.

Wait, are we just going to gloss over the fact that there used to be rumors that Ely and Agot were dating? YES, we’re going to gloss over the fact because YOU KNOW WHY? It’s been more than twenty years already. Time to move on! Can we, even just for one day, live our lives without having to talk about other people’s lives? Let’s go on with our lives and do something productive. Learn about stocks, or multi level marketing, which is also kind of pyramiding. Or better, go get vaccinated! Give something back to the community. Demand for change. And hold the motherfuckers accountable. And lastly, please stop reading this blog. Now.

Breeder’s Digest: MYXposed, Ely Buendia, Diane Ventura

Was watching another MYX documentary the other day about bands and gangs, and drugs, orgies and stuff. Okay. Just bands, local bands and the music scene from early 2000s onwards, featuring interviews with the members of Sandwich, Parokya, Kamikazee, Pupil, Slapshock, Hale, Cueshe, Callalily(?), Sponge Cola, 6cyclemind… Bamboo Manalac was also there, and Francis Brew of NU107 and The Dawn.

I thought Bamboo had the most boring things to say in that docu. He was like, “yeah, man, the energy of the crowd…”, and I was like, “Isn’t that the most generic thing an artist can say about rock concerts, the energy of the crowd?” Like, does he have any memorable story about playing out of town, being on the road? Like for instance, Ely Buendia talked about one concert in Naga City where a huge rock landed on his foot, which effectively ended the concert there and then.

This reminds me of a friend, who one time went with us to see NU Rock Awards in Pasay. On the way there, he was so hyped about finally seeing Bamboo. Bamboo played “Hallelujah” that night, if my memory serves me right. But my friend was disappointed. He went there a huge Bamboo fan; he went home raving about Aia de Leon and Imago instead. Those guys were awesome, he said. I thought he was disappointed that Bamboo seemed aloof during their performance.

I don’t think Bamboo usually does this “connect with or address your audience” schtick, if he does at all. And he never did that night. But he did what he’d usually do: his full of energy, high intensity singing/dancing/stomping. Which another friend from work isn’t too crazy about. He said Bamboo and Gary V. do the same thing and they both look ridiculous while doing it. And I thought, yeah, he had a point.

There’s probably too little in the documentary that fans of those aforementioned bands didn’t already know. Things about nu metal or kupaw, the transition from analog to digital, Bamboo’s return, and hugely popular anthem “Noypi”, pogi-rock, among other things. When asked about the pogi-rock label (coined by Quark Henares and the late Luis Katigbak), Yael Yuzon said he was kind of annoyed, or something to that effect; the members of Hale and Cueshe, they were just bemused.

Francis Brew probably had the most insightful things to say in it; 6cyclemind’s drummer-turned-lead singer Tutti Caringal, probably the least. S’ya ‘yong tipo na maangas lang magsalita. Pero parang wala naman masyado kwenta ‘yong mga sinabi. At hindi ako hater ng 6cyclemind ha, paborito ko kayang kantahin ‘yong “Sige” sa videoke at inuman.

I watched Ely Buendia’s short film Waiting Shed the other night. And you know what, you can search for it online. I read about this short long time ago. In fact, I went to the film festival where this short premiered and some of the people I met there said that it was… amusing, I guess? Maybe, mainly for Diane Ventura, who played the nurse in a waiting shed, drinking, eating, talking on the phone, and waiting for, I don’t know, maybe waiting for Ely Buendia to say “Cut!”

Better than Waiting Shed, is Diane Ventura’s Therapist. It’s on Viddsee and you should definitely see it. It has Lally Buendia in it, and the wonderful Ms. Cherrie Gil. You know, “You’re nothing but a second-​rate, trying hard copycat!” that kind of thing.

A few years ago, I watched Bang Bang Alley when it premiered on PBO. It’s an omnibus film feature, from directors Ely Buendia, King Palisoc, and Yan Yuzon, said to be about the culture of violence infecting our society. Bang Bang Alley opens with, well, “Bang Bang Alley”, a ten-minute short directed by Buendia, featuring Jimmy Santos as a security guard named Julie Andrews. Julie is chilling in a karaoke bar with some babe, and then he went to the other room and shot the guy with the microphone. Because he’s singing “My Way.”

I was able to watch only up to the end of the first segment, Yan Yuzon’s “Aso’s Pusa’t Daga”, with Bella Padilla and Art Acuna, whom you might remember from Jerrold Tarog’s Heneral Luna and Goyo. It was OK. If I remember correctly, Yan Yuzon even played one of the cops in the film. According to reviews, “Makina”, the segment directed by Palisoc was the best of the lot. For Buendia’s “Pusakal”, the consensus was that, it had interesting ideas, but it’s also uneven.

Why I didn’t watch the whole thing? The movie started late, maybe around 11:30PM. And the video quality on PBO was, kind of bad. And I had better things to do: sleep.

All this considered, I think I would still prefer to have Ely Buendia on the director’s chair rather than in front of the camera. If you’ve seen Quark Henares’ Rakenrol, you probably know what I mean. Maybe it wasn’t Buendia’s fault, maybe it was the writers’, but that scene where Buendia plays himself and dispenses some “rakenrol” piece of advice to Jason Abalos’ character, it was so… um, underwhelming? Cringe-y perhaps? Like Buendia was playing some dude who’s trying to play another dude named Ely Buendia? I don’t know, it didn’t ring true.

In San Lazaro, Buendia played a much smaller role. In the movie, he’s a detective who is also the cousin of Wincy Ong’s character. The thing with his acting is, he’s obviously acting. He doesn’t, you know, to use a Beatles reference, “Act Naturally”. Or maybe—BIG MAYBE—maybe it’s just me. In the movies, I can’t help but see Ely Buendia, THE Ely Buendia of Eraserheads, Pupil, The Mongols, etc. instead of the characters he played.

Still, for me, the best acting job Buendia ever did was when he guested in Oki Doki Dok, where he plays the school bully, one of Claudine Barreto’s classmates. He was in school uniform and he had very little dialogue. The show ends with Buendia brandishing a machete, chasing Aga Muhlach and Claudine around, as the show’s theme starts to play. You know, this theme song.

Songs of the Week: Nina, Mayonnaise, Richard Hawley, Cultured Pearls

My dreams have come and gone. The world is spinning faster each day. And I am not the one my future promised I’d be. Well, Nina, what can I say? My alternate future self never made any promise to my past self. Maybe my past self never even dreamed of that alternate future self in the first place. Because living from pocket to the plate could do that to people. Continue reading “Songs of the Week: Nina, Mayonnaise, Richard Hawley, Cultured Pearls”

Schizo Records Reissues Eraserheads’ Pop U! on its 30th Anniversary!

Eraserheads taking a “groupie” during stickier happier times.

We all know how it started. The band peddled their garage sale demo to every known record company. And they got rejected by the record labels because they weren’t pop enough. The songs weren’t pop enough. And they weren’t pogi enough. It’s almost saying that their music was crap, even though it wasn’t. Crappily recorded, yes, but not crap. It only means record exec couldn’t put a price tag on it. It’s worthless. At least to them.

We all know what happened next. The band taped the demo on multiple cassettes and Ely Buendia draw fishes for the cover art. Because both Kurt Cobain and Jesus Christ, were born under the sign of Pisces. And both of them sported long hair, at least, according to the popular western interpretation of the image of Christ. And they called it Pop U! Because why not. And it became a huge college hit. I just don’t know which specific colleges in UP.

I just realized now that what’s on the cover weren’t actually tiny fishes, but tiny guitars. I was probably high when I wrote the last paragraph. Anyway José, 30 long years and an ongoing pandemic later, Schizo Records is re-issuing Eraserheads’ first ever demo, not on vinyl, not on CD, not on cassette, and definitely not on Spotify (because it’s evil), but on a format acceptable to every socialist society: the glorious 320 kbps MPEG-2 Audio Layer III. Well, not everyone may be able to get the basic rights and needs, but at least everyone can listen and share music for free.

Click on the link below to get this fresh release from Schizo Records and listen to Eraserheads’ earliest songs like you’ve never heard them before. Because, you probably never heard them before. Buendia’s “Amen!”, Raymund Marasigan’s “Fading River” and “Dying Slow”, and “Venus In The Country” a late era Lennon-McCartney number, demonstrate clearly how unclear it was at the time that this band could actually hit as big as they did a few years later. These were definitely not radio hit material.

While Schizo Records head honcho Levan de Guzman initially planned to have the original Pop U! cassette tape remastered by no other than Steve Albini, famous for his work in Nirvana’s In Utero and Bush’s mediocre Razorblade Suitcase, the plan didn’t push through. When asked why he picked Steve Albini over Bernie Grundman, who remastered Eheads’ major label debut, Levan suggested that the difference between Pop U! and Ultra is instructive, like he was comparing In Utero and Nevermind.

Unfortunately or fortunately, Levan eventually gave up on the idea of remastering the tape after a session of yoga. That is, he realized after de-cluttering his mind that the original tapes weren’t even mastered at all. Remastering them is nothing but impossible, but mastering is. However, he also decided against mastering the tapes—after another session of yoga, of course—realizing that, well, he wanted fans to experience Pop U! in its rawest original uncorrupted form. Because, why tarnish the experience? Why spoil the fun?

Thus, if this is your first time listening to Pop U!, go pop that cherry CD into that CD player. I mean figuratively. And keep in mind that what you’re going to hear is exactly the same sounds the early Christians heard 30 years ago. Every byte of it. Back when they were being persecuted by the Romans. And being fed to the lions. Oh, what a time to be a Christian then!

Pop U [link]
Check the Schizo Records website for more details [link]

Movies: The Lone Ranger, WandaVision, Psychokinesis

Martin Scorsese once said Marvel movies isn’t cinema. Not that I have a strong opinion on whether movies such as Avengers: Endgame is cinema or not, it’s just that, I thought it’s cool to mention Martin Scorsese in the first line. That said, maybe you could say that Zack Snyder’s Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a step towards making comic book movies “cinema”, considering the length and the aspect ratio (4:3). At least much more than any of Marvel’s recent tentpoles, right? I mean, it’s grueling four hours long. That’s like, half the length of Lav Diaz’ Melancholia!

Whatever. What I’m really trying to say is, I’m just kind of tired of them. Superhero movies, comic book movies. Anything Marvel. Not that I’m actively avoiding anything made by them, I’m just not actively checking or following any of their new products, or anything that’s in development. I wasn’t even remotely excited for WandaVision. I only got curious with that big reveal the show was said to building up to near the end, which is the only reason I half-heartedly watched it. And I’m definitely not in any way intrigued with what they have in store for that series with Falcon and the Winter Soldier, a.k.a Marvel’s most boring character.

I thought WandaVision was just sufficient. In a way that it demonstrated how Marvel could improve in developing their characters using the TV series format as opposed to the movies i.e., again Bucky Barnes, the most underwritten character in the MCU. But then, there’s the problem again that one has to watch every related tie-in, whether a series on Disney+ or a movie, just so it would be easy to follow and make sense of everything, once the big crossover comes along. But if you don’t like bothering with the series, then it becomes “for the fans only” once gain and the casual fans would have to play catch-up.

Not that there isn’t any superhero-related show or movie that I’ve enjoyed watching recently. I thought last year’s Season 2 of The Boys was great. Better than most movies from either DC or Marvel. Psychokinesis (2018), which is on Netflix, is really good. It’s about a man who accidentally acquires telekinesis. When he tried to win back his estranged daughter, he ended up helping her and a group of people fighting back against a megacorporation who wants to demolish their small business establishments to put up a big shopping center. It’s a superhero movie that reminded me of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies, in that it’s more character-driven. And it’s a movie where using superhero powers has real-life consequences, unlike in the those too-safe for kids and plot-driven MCU movies.

Not really a comic book or superhero movie, but The Lone Ranger (2013), considered to be the biggest flop of all time, I actually liked, like a lot. At more than 2 hours, it’s still terribly long, but I enjoyed the movie’s third act, way way more than in any of the last five movies from Marvel. And I thought Johnny Depp as Tonto was OK, fun, regardless of some issues some people may have (i.e., whitewashing). And I thought I got that “kimosabe means wrong brother” joke. The title character’s love interest is his brother’s widow.

That said, I also understand why the movie flopped and got generally bad reviews. The title character, I would say, is semi-obscure, when compared with any superhero. And the movie’s basically a Western. And I think the impression that this is just a “Pirates of the Carribean” re-hash but with cowboys and Indians is not entirely wrong. Even though it came out six years after the overlong Pirates threequel At the World’s End, maybe audience were already tired of watching Johnny Depp doing basically the same thing, which is also not entirely wrong either.

But if you’ve already forgotten much of At the World’s End and Dead Man’s Chest, like me, and you loved the Lone Ranger character as a kid, again, like me, then there’s a chance that The Lone Ranger would come off as something, maybe not really “fresh”, but something watchable at least—maybe more than watchable. What I’m saying is, I really enjoyed it. Especially the part where the William Tell overture is finally played.

Not really excited for anything related to superhero these days. There’s no pressure to watch Zack Snyder’s latest masterpiece. Nor do I care what would happen to Joss Whedon’s future projects (if any), after those allegations. I still think The Avengers and Serenity hold up pretty well. I’m not really excited for anything comic book right now.

EXCEPT FOR THIS. The trailer for which, just came out last night.

It’s not Suicide Squad, it’s THE Suicide Squad!

And maybe this. Not really comic book movie but…

Breeder’s Digest: Zild, Oh Flamingo, Ely Buendia

Juan Luna’s Tampuhan

I was listening to Zild’s Homework Machine the other night, looking at the dark black sky on the window when an angel appeared to me. The angel, it looked horrifying. With multiple wings spinning like wheels, flaming swords and other indescribable things. Then, the angel spoke to me in Alan Rickman’s voice: Why is Zild only Zild and Unique just Unique? Isn’t it not apt that Zild plays bass even though he was named after the cymbals? And what about Unique, was he named after a toothpaste?

And then I woke up. And wrote the following draft, for Zild’s solo album. And since no one needs album reviews anymore since hardly anyone needs anyone’s opinion on music since they can instantly stream anything anytime on YouTube or Spotify without shelling out a hundred bucks, I still decided to write it anyway. Here it is:

Look closely at the lyrics. Sharp or witty, they’re not. Acerbic, yes, some of them. With some even revealing that this is most probably made in mom’s and pop’s basement. With their credit limit to spare. But you’ll get the general impression that they’re somehow general enough for everyone to parse, and somewhat vague enough for everyone to take a second look. But the ideas or images don’t pop out, no stories and characters that comes to life. Clearly this is not a work of a wordsmith as some may have claimed. Just a quick reference to any work by Buendia, Artadi, Blanco or even Chito Miranda and the whole thing falls apart. Musically, he’s craftier than his “Mundo” co-writer, who probably ran out of TP after one album that he had to fart around with a boring instrumental and an even more boring sound collage.

Was watching War Horse (2011) last night. Was so amazed the CGI horse looked, acted, and moved so real. Found out later that Spielberg had a real horse mo-capped for the role, which explains why.

You may have seen the ad. A Spotify curated playlist, This is Rivermaya, with Nathan, Mark and Mike Elgar on the pic. “That’s not Rivermaya,” one comment said. “But that’s the original bassist and drummer,” another answered. Whether it’s Rivermaya or not, you guys fight among yourselves, I don’t care. The question shouldn’t be why or if this current lineup still deserves the name. The question should be: why Rivermaya’s first four albums not on Spotify yet?

Iskalawags (2013) is well-shot, well-acted, love letter to the ’90s and local action movies. There’s only one problem: I thought the narration was redundant. It’s not really “show, don’t tell” because the movie has great visuals, it’s “show, but don’t show and tell at the same time”. There are a lot of times when the narration is simply describing what’s already shown on screen. As if the narrator was actually reading the short story the movie was based on. I have one more complaint: There’s just too much narration, not enough beewbs.

You can’t do better than those who came before by wearing their influence and say the same things that’s been said before—and better. If “Sitting and imagining sunsets” already speaks volumes then something like “There’s a place where the sun’s inside a cup of tea” speaks a whole shelf, maybe a mini library.

Here’s another draft, a longer alternative to what I wrote about Oh, Flamingo!’s second EP, Volumes (2020): Oh, they speak volumes! Clever, right? Fans wonder why they aren’t as big as Jesus Christ yet—I mean Jesus ‘Dizzy’ Ventura (Ventura, the infamous frontman of the now defunct now forgotten The Mongols, descendants of the Khublai Klan). Maybe if they overplay “Echoes/Psychedelic Sweater”. But two EPs five years apart and no full length album yet? A couple of non-album cuts (e.g., Parara) in between notwithstanding, that five-year gap already feels like a decade, in the age of hyperspeed internet that is (In reality though, hyperspeed isn’t felt by small subscribers like me, we are seemingly stuck in the Dial Up Age). Compared with their peers Unique and the IV of Spades, who have been trading singles, albums, acerbic words, barbs, and vitriol (heaven forbids, that the release of Zild’s Homework Machine won’t trigger Word War III), it looks like Oh Flam’s output has been as limited as their reach. That is, in this day and age, you’ve got to keep dropping singles in order to keep yourself afloat. And don’t give me that Quality vs. Quantity shit. Fans want their favorite band to get big? Wish them to write hits. “Naubos Na” sounds like one, albeit a minor one. So does “Psychedelic Sweater”, the best track on this EP. No, it’s their best song, period. Though with the image of a sweaty Luistro stuck in my head makes me regret to have read an article about the song’s backstory. I wish I could unread it. (Hint: It’s not about a sweater like the Weezer song; he’s the sweater. Kind of not clever really, if you think about it.) Outside of those two, “Sunsets” could be counted too, if not for its ugly-ass pre-chorus. Okay, it’s not really ugly-ass, but it kind of undoes all the good things in the song. Do the two versions of “Volumes” have any use other than take space? I’m sure any fan with an ear for sonic paintings would find use for them. And at least, it’s not as lazy-ass obvious as Unique Salonga’s album fillers. What was that again? A sound collage? Lols B+

After finally revealing the true meaning of “Spoliarium”, to the dismay of fanatical fans, budding conspiracy theorists, and wannabe UP professors, Ely Buendia made another bold move: releasing “Metro” amidst the extension of this purgatorial lockdown and the endless celebration of ABSCBN shutdown. A bold and calculated move, which he probably miscalculated. Maybe it’s just another Gloc9 case. I’m not really disappointed. C’mon, it’s just a fucking song, man. As if it could change anything, as if it would be any different if a different group of people were behind it.

Still, that’s some bad company, he got there. That I have to say. But taking the song just as it is, maybe it could change minds? Open a few eyes perhaps? In the same way that some people might finally accept the mundane truth behind the myth and not think about Pepsi Paloma the next time they listen to “Spoliarium” on Youtube or Spotify. Why was it named “Spoliarium” then? Because they were so fucking wasted that they were lying and being dragged on the floor like the dead gladiators depicted in the painting.

Songs of the Week: Radiohead, Stephen Malkmus, Angel Locsin

Nostalgia, according to Wikipedia (a type of encyclopedia which doesn’t require any kind of lifting, reaching or walking to the bookshelf), is a sentimentality for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations. Nostalgia is associated with a yearning for the past, its personalities, possibilities, and events, especially the “good old days” Continue reading “Songs of the Week: Radiohead, Stephen Malkmus, Angel Locsin”

Re-watch: Spider-Man 2 (2004) / Far From Home (2019)

Recently re-watched Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man: Far From Home. The former is generally regarded as the best Spider-Man movie, and not only that, one of the best comic book movies, alongside Logan, The Dark Knight, and Watchmen (just kidding). And the latter, I’d say the best among recent Spider-Man movies. Don’t fight me. Continue reading “Re-watch: Spider-Man 2 (2004) / Far From Home (2019)”

Breeder’s Digest: Fever Dolls, Teenage Fanclub, Sufjan Stevens

New artists you discovered recently?

This relatively new-ish band called Fever Dolls, which, if I remember correctly, is said to be an indie band that combines Saturday Night Fever and the punk rock theatrics of the New York Dolls. I won’t say I became an instant fan of theirs, but I like some of their songs, especially “Mrs. Carver” and “From Dusk to Dawn.” Continue reading “Breeder’s Digest: Fever Dolls, Teenage Fanclub, Sufjan Stevens”

Breeder’s Digest

My friend’s got a boyfriend and she hates that dick, she tells me everyday. He wants more dinero just to stay at home, and he thinks the coronavirus isn’t real. That it’s brought about by 5G. That it’s something that was created in China and that it’s up for a superpower like the US to oppose them. That Trump is playing the bad guy who would turn out to be ‘the good guy’ in the end like he’s some bad-ass character usually played by Samuel L. Jackson in the movies. Except he’s white. Well, Nick Fury used to be white. Then her boyfriend shared this video where thousands of people protesting in Berlin declaring the ‘end of the pandemic.’ I googled for news thinking Germany has been declared COVID-free already (not yet, but they’re getting there). Turns out it’s a rally by those who don’t believe in COVID-19, neo-nazis, right-wingers, anti-vaxxers, etc. And I was like, what the fuckin’ fuck?

A woman suffered from a locked jaw. A woman suffered from a locked jaw while performing. A woman suffered from a locked jaw while performing blow job. Yes, that’s probably the only thing I heard of the movie The Sweetest Thing, with Cameron Diaz and Selma Blair. It was Selma Blair’s character I suppose? I’m not sure. Then, they had to sing—together—Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” to solve that locked jaw problem. I heard it was a chick flick, and based on what I heard, girls loved to talk about that particular scene. I heard girls talking about Gone Girl as well. Not because it’s a David Fincher movie (Seven, Fight Club) but because Ben Affleck’s schlong has like a one-second appearance in one scene.

The line “Di makapaghintay, nagpakamatay,” from Eraserheads’ “Ha Ha Ha”, is actually about Mike Hughes killing himself in an attempt to prove that the Earth is flat.

Let me tell you about my other friend now. This friend of mine, he said he has this friend, who once schooled him about the evils of socialism one time he (my friend) shared something about capitalism. And his friend told him that he should read more. He said he didn’t bother to ask his friend to elaborate further on the said ‘evils’ but my friend presumed he’d mention anything from what happened to USSR or some poor countries in South America or how millions died in China and Cambodia. And I was like DUDE! Pol Pot was a genocidal dude who dressed as a communist only because his neighbors in Vietnam were communists. This friend also sent him a YouTube video on how Capitalism works and why it’s OK and stuff like that. And its a video from a channel steeped on right-wing propaganda. I said maybe he should’ve sent him an article or something. He said he already thought that but decided against it. His friend, being a devout church-goer, there’s no way he could trojan horse something into his heavily guarded beliefs. Especially if they’re guarded by Jesus.

I’ve written about this movie before. It’s called King of Comedy. No, not the Martin Scorsese/Robert de Niro one but the Stephen Chow/Stephen Chow one. This is hands down one of the funniest movie scenes ever [link].

Awkward. That awkward moment when your friend slipped and you tried to catch her and you accidentally grabbed her boob. And how amazing was that split-second realization processed from the nerve endings to the brain that suddenly she tried to balance herself while you pulled your hand as quick as you possibly can like you touched a live wire or something that you kind of regret it afterwards. And you couldn’t say ‘sorry’ because that would mean you’re admitting to the crime. And she reacted like nothing happened though she couldn’t look you in the eye. So you both tried to brush it off but maybe—just maybe—think about it afterwards.

Movies: Shadow in the Clouds, The God of Cookery, Resident Evil

Near the end of the movie, my knuckles hurt while watching Chloe Grace Moretz punch the gremlin’s ugly toothy mouth. Not only that, I had to pick my jaw from the floor by the time the credits roll. Nevermind my heart, wherever it landed after it jumped out of my chest while Moretz was crawling underneath that B-17 bomber like she was Spider-Gwen or Tom Cruise. That is, Shadow in the Clouds (2020) is a well-made, relentless, fun, action horror movie. Sure, the plot surrounding the secret package was kind of stupid, but it’s the fun kind of stupid. Not like Snakes On A Plane “really stupid” stupid, if you know what I mean. And even though it wasn’t a “full-on” creature movie as I’ve expected, I wasn’t disappointed. Even if first half of the movie deals with “boys being boys” and “men saying women can’t do this or that.” Y’know, I’m not really the type who gets offended by movies like this or Captain Marvel or Wonder Woman. In fact, I find the first half of the movie to be very good, very tight. Specially when the gremlin first appeared and she was stuck in the turret and it was claustrophobic as fuck.

I’m not really a fan of cooking shows. Or cooking in general. One time I watched a local cooking show, I thought the judges’ reactions were mostly cringe. After that, I had this general impression that judges in these shows had the cringest things to say. It’s like they were describing sex or something. Or they were competing for the Bad Sex Award. I mean, how do you exactly say delicious in more than five words. Exactly, you can’t. But a movie about cooking and cooking shows? Well, that’s a different story. Especially, if the movie we’re talking about is The God of Cookery (1996). Sure, some might say Stephen Chow’s rise-fall-redemption arc has been overused to death in his movies. But it isn’t really the predictability of the arc that matters, it’s how the said arc is presented, how it is told. And with Chow, it usually involves hilarious gags, over the top action and sometimes, a physically unattractive woman. In Shaolin Soccer, Shao Wei’s Mui had to deal with exaggeratedly huge shoulder pads and acne. In this movie, Karen Mok (So Close) is almost unrecognizable with her false teeth and facial scars. How did they make cooking more exciting? Mixed it with kung fu, some Buddhist wisdom, and well, plenty of heart.

How to watch a two-hour long movie when you kind of doubt it’s worth it? And you don’t want to skip chapters because you might miss some of the plot. Well, here’s what I did (and turns out, there isn’t much to be missed). I watched Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004) at x1.60 speed and here’s what I found: Sienna Guillory’s acting as Jill Valentine was so wooden I kept wondering if her character was really CGI. I mean, her character looks like CGI. Just look at her hair. And who the hell goes to battle in a tube? Well, Jill Valentine, obviously. The action scenes were so incoherently cut and edited that I sometimes had to play the movie at slower speed just to make sense of them. Guess what, they still hardly make sense even at x0.5 speed. Anyway, for the later half of the movie, I got distracted by Milla Jovovich’s pants, which got ripped off on one leg from her thigh down to her knee. How did she keep the lower half from falling? With all those jumping and kicking and running? Maybe it’s some kind of mid-aughts fashion statement (just like Jill’s weapons-grade tube). They even put it on the movie posters (link).

breeders digest

Was listening to “drivers license” this morning and I thought “isn’t there supposed to be an apostrophe in there?” Shouldn’t it be driver’s license? Or driver license? Back when I was in the UK, they call it driving licence, but with “C” instead of “S.” When I was in Denmark, they call it kørekort and I don’t really know how to pronounce that. Continue reading “breeders digest”

Top 10 Porn for Christmas Day

I missed the chance to make this post on Christmas Day so I am taking back that chance now. Because, what’s the difference anyway? Christmas, New Year? When you realized that the “new year” only gives you a false sense of discontinuity, as if the time is a timer that resets every three-hundred sixty… um, a certain number of days, maybe we should stop Continue reading “Top 10 Porn for Christmas Day”

Tenet (2020)

If the turnstiles were real and people could really go backwards in time, wearing oxygen masks driving cars in reverse (as if finally finding the perfect solution for the traffic infested metro), I’d go back to the time when I watched Tenet only so I could watch it backwards. No, not so that I would understand every bit of it, but so that I could unwatched it. And recover Continue reading “Tenet (2020)”