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? Whoa.

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)”

The Real True Meaning of ‘Gaheto’ in Eraserheads’ “Harana” 


Back in 1997, Eraserheads released an EP, a taste test for their then upcoming fifth studio album. They called it Bananatype. And put a monkey on its cover. At the time, local bands/artists don’t usually release EPs or maxi-singles. Which explains why Ely Buendia had to explain what is an EP and why, during their TV appearances. Not all of their fans were familiar with the format. Continue reading “The Real True Meaning of ‘Gaheto’ in Eraserheads’ “Harana” “

Movies: Porno, Supercop, The Whistlers, Zorro


Just Another Movie Post

Last movie you’ve seen?

Live Free or Die Hard. The one with Justin Long and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. MEW, who’s gorgeous as ever, played John McClane’s (Bruce Willis, ICYDK) daughter. I went to my parents’ last week and I decided to dust off some old DVDs, movies which I haven’t seen before. We saw Die Hard and Die Hard 2 first. The next day, I decided to skip Die Hard 3 and went with Live Free (or Die Hard 4) Continue reading “Movies: Porno, Supercop, The Whistlers, Zorro”

Reviews: Radioactive Sago Project

The Radioactive Sago Project (2000)
This bop-rock posse mixes horns and riffs, low brow and literary, drunken conversations and frenzy orgy, all in a smoky bar where a drunk-ass poet intone his spiels in one dark corner. From pigs to pork barrel, somebody probably thought we were never ready for “Gusto Ko Ng Baboy.” Truth is, we were never ready for this whole album, where Andrew E.’s “Humanap Ka Ng Panget” gets a blow-job makeover (Palagi s’yang nakahalik sa aking *bleeeep*). The early aughts was weird. You have Sandwich, Sago and those “kupaw” bands while the popular radio plays Aiza Seguerra. A- 

Urban Gulaman (2004)
Reimagined old Manila as if it was all neon, funk and jazz. Squatterjazz instead Squatterpunk. Lourd de Veyra jettisoned the non-Tagalog numbers for ones written spoken in the vernacular. Whether it’s de Veyra having written his best spiels yet or the band being in the perfect groove or both, this set is wittier, sharper, funnier at the same time more immediate, more accessible than the first (“Hello”, “Kape”, “Masarap”). There’s no question “Bad Motherfucker” is a bad motherfucker, but maybe you need at least a liter of gin pomelo in your blood to dig “Gin Pomelo.” And as Malkmus once said, words—they’re diamond-sharp today (“Magbanat ng buto at gawing bulalo”, “Burak sa kape, gamot sa ubo, sa utak ng gago”, the whole of “Alaala Ni Batman”). Also, sage advice: Wag Kang Maingay May Naglalaba.

Tanginamo Andaming Nagugutom Sa Mundo Fashionista Ka Pa Rin (2007)
Not exactly as wasak as Sago covering songs by other nominees that year in the NU rock awards but damn close. (Or was it Myx? MTV? Can’t remember.) And maybe, just as cluttered. This is the sound of a band who “carte blanche” after two albums—ram in every damn ideas that they could. Sage piece of advice: Alak, Sugal, Kape, Babae, Kabaong. B+ 

Ang Itlog At Ang Demonyo (2014)
A somewhat sober return to the forms they already bastardized and butchered before, and more. Actually, less. Either you thought they couldn’t top that last album and you’re proven right. Or, that this is just a little more focused than the last one. “Miting Ng Mga Atay” is probably their catchiest sing-song in a while. As usual, music good for uneasy listening—that comes with great album art—that comes in the worst of digipak packaging from Terno Recordings. B

Reviews: Loop, Kai Honasan

Kai Honasan – In Your Face & Other Songs About Other Faces (2014)
You know the type—soft-strummed cutesy girly pop that either makes you roll your eyes or makes you feel sleepy—songs that somehow, typified the ukulele. Not when Kai Honasan is the one wielding it. Not when she can smack you with it right in the face. Not when the producers, Eheads vets Buddy Zabala and Sancho Sanchez, recognize that the songs need more than four strings—drums, keyboards, maybe a little kazoo. You may admire the songs about the annoying guys she knew or dated but you’d surely like her song about the one who always gets her tongue-tied (I could write a hundred words for every second in this melody / Make a bunch of metaphors saying how it should be you and me) and the one where she gave her all—a la Mariah Carey. And that song about the desaparecido/rebel and his muse that sounds like a lilting serenade on a firefly-lit night? There’s no more perfect way to cap this (mini)album. A- 

Loop – Flirting with the Universe (2014)
Don’t be tricked into dismissing them for that nondescript album cover or be deceived by the non-Google-friendly name, the familiar one-word titles (“Runaway”, “Lost”, “Lite”). Vanilla or just another female-fronted band they’re anything but. The words may be mere when you read them but not when Kim Trinidad sings, feels them. As the old adage goes, you can’t tell a book digital album by its cover. This is a dreamy pop-rock record layered with cake, jam, cream – perfect to go with that overpriced coffee one of the songs took its title from (“Peppermint Mocha”). I’m usually not a fan of great singers (all my favorite singers couldn’t sing) but after watching Loop live online, I wanted to write a song that starts with “Dear Kim.” No, not Sembreak—Eminem. A-

God Exists 360 Degrees


Sad and shocking news. While I don’t consider myself a big fan of theirs, my closest friends are. Friends who I haven’t seen for years. Brothers who I’m sure would pass the Dead Body Theory of Friendship. Though in theory, the test wouldn’t be the hiding of the body but what comes before the hiding part.

Continue reading “God Exists 360 Degrees”

Reviews: Ourselves the Elves, Oh, Flamingo!

Ourselves the Elves – It’ll Be Alright (2013)
What elevates this from the rest of female-fronted bands of local indieland, I don’t know exactly. Maybe it’s the lack of synths. Or the lo-fi prod perhaps? Maybe it’s the untamed cymbals occasionally clashing with the guitars. Or maybe it’s the intimate air that makes me feel I’m in the same room with them – and they’re giving me the finest 12 minutes of twee-folk I can find – online. Or maybe it’s Akira Medina and Alyana Cabral’s call and response on “Shelter”. And maybe because their music reminds me a bit of Camera Obscura, only it’s more stripped-down and folksy. A-

Ourselves the Elves – Geography Lessons (2015)
Not only a little less “less produced” than their first EP. Perhaps it’s even overproduced, taking their debut as reference that they kind of lose some of those earthly charms. No more “recorded live and in the same room” feels, but no less inviting. Because the crystal clear production also added a magical dimension into the songs (“Longing For”, “Uncertainly”). Magical as in elven, but think Kidlat Tahimik, not Tolkien. Also, why is it that sad songs resonate more than the relatively less sad ones? A-

Oh, Flamingo! – Oh, Flamingo! (2015)
They have some really nifty guitar-indie pop, with some odd, maybe not African-inspired beats (maybe) that you’d wish they have something more interesting to say. Or at least, interesting way(s) to say them. Maybe their latest, “Parara”, “Naubos Na” were attempts in trying to do that. Or maybe not. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking because, here’s a band narrowing the gender gap among other things (i.e., they got a cute girl drummer). So I just turn up the volume for those tasty guitar parts. Though I wish some real feelings poked through more often, like in the song they’ve curiously hidden, after the “final track.” B+

Oh, Flamingo! – Volumes (2020)
Probably underrated their first EP the first time around. And it wasn’t until I revisited it for reference, that I realized what I missed—that it’s probably the closest one can get to a certain brand of [guitar] indie rock in this day and age. My initial disappointment though with how plainly they state things sometimes, still holds true. And carries on to this second EP. They’re less obvious this time. I’ll give them that. Though I don’t think it’s the type that makes one bother to look up for hidden meanings, none of which, the band haven’t already willfully revealed. And ideally, it isn’t enough to wear your influence on your sleeve and sing about the same things they already sang about before (e.g., love, sunsets)—and better—no matter how much psychedelic wizardry you mix them with. Like in their first EP, the best cut comes last. Though with the image of their sweaty guitarist stuck in my head, it makes me regret to have read about the song’s backstory. 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. B+

Songs for Driving

photo of person driving a vehicle
Photo by UHGO on Pexels.com

Three typhoons in two weeks is no laughing matter. Five, if we include the tropical storms. And despite being constantly on Facebook for the latest weather bulletins and updates I found myself wondering the other day: “How come the last Typhoon was called Ulysses when the ones before them were Quinta and Rolly? What happened to S and T?” Continue reading “Songs for Driving”

Cutterpillow going 25; Circus redux/reordered


So the #ultrasecret sessions actually did happen. With each member of the band recording their tracks separately in their own studios. Maybe the “Ligaya” guitar track uploaded by Marcus Adoro on YouTube was really from these sessions, not from the rehearsals during the ‘reunion tour’ as I’ve previously mentioned. 

Continue reading “Cutterpillow going 25; Circus redux/reordered”

Music: The Bernadettes, EndofContracts, Bembol Rockers, etc.


Let’s talk about bands you probably heard of before but never heard from again.

Bembol Rockers. Chances are, you probably knew more about Bembol Rocco’s children than the band whose name was inspired by Bembol Roco’s children’s father, who’s no other than—take a guess—Bembol Roco himself. And you probably knew more about Bembol Roco himself and his escapades in Manila in the Claws of Neon and how he lost Ligaya (before the Eraserheads found her again) than these rowdy quartet who specializes in rockabilly and swing. One more thing this band specializes in: How to disappear completely. Unlike Bembol the actor whom you can still see on TV from time to time, Bembol the band hasn’t left much trace, scent, internet footprint or whatever that could be traced back to them. Found no articles written about them. They made one album apparently. Or maybe two. One is The Fabolous Bembol Rockers (according to Discogs.com) and two, this “Live” album found on pinoyalbums(dot)com which has the same tracklisting as the former.

The Bernadettes. I should probably stop writing this now because the band just released a brand new track last September. Like the Bembol Rockers, The Bernadettes were a hot commodity many moons ago. Never really heard anything by them until today, when I (re)discovered their song “Let’s Make Babies” on Lilystars Records’ Bandcamp page while looking for We Are Imaginary’s debut EP One Dreamy Indeterminate Hum. “Let’s Make Babies” is a great indie-pop song. Catchy chorus, great hooks. It’s like Nirvana’s “Molly’s Lips” meets Weezer and Oasis in a non-alcoholic bar and decided to have a threesome. Except all of them are males and therefore making babies is very much not possible at all. And the album cover featuring an elephant mounting a rhino? Not very wholesome, these guys. And I was really really disappointed when I found out that Bernadette Sembrano, Bernadette Allyson, and Bernadette Whatshername were not really the members of the band.

Your Imaginary Friends. Well, first off, they’re not real. Believe me. I used to have one when I was a kid. And my mom used to… Oh! You mean the band! Sorry, I thought… Okay, the band… Yeah, Ahmad Tanji & co. gave us “Nikita“, this EP and went into hiding, never to be heard from ever again. A lot of bands in Clem Castro’s Lilystars Records are like that, actually. The Camerawalls had only one album. The Gentle Isolation, The Viral Atmosphere, The Harsh Quarantines—all of them had only one album to their name. They’re still around actually, Your Imaginary Friends. Except they’re not your imaginary friends anymore. They turned out to be real. And they turned out to be not your friends. No, they changed their name to We Are Imaginary—I know, a little less catchy and imaginative if you’d ask me. At least they’re not imaginary anymore. Oh, wait, they still are.

The Butchercons. According to Stephen Malkmus, punk bands should release just one album and then break up. Maybe because there’s no merit in releasing same album over and over again. Maybe that’s The Butchercons’ credo too. One album and they’re done. Their album Coalesce may not be one of the best albums from the last decade but it’s a solid rock album. The guitars in this album totally owns, man! And these kids can really scream! Put this record on when you’re running low on energy. Or you can go to the nearest Family Mart and grab that energy bar. But if you have allergies, like me, then The Butchercons is your safest option. Of course, there’s also Cobra, Red Bull and coffee.

End of Contracts. You probably saw Edouard Canlas once on TV parading his bodega full of sneakers, but you probably never heard of End of Contracts, his musical alter-ego. End of Contracts’ lone CD Radioedito and Narda’s Discotillion came out around the same time. Thinking about it now, I actually regretted buying that Turin Brakes CD one time I was in Glorietta. Or Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah’s debut album. I should have bought Radioedito instead (and Moonstar88’s Todo Combo). I should have gambled on this one. It may not have been worth it but at least I wouldn’t be wondering now how the songs on this album sounds. I never really heard any song from this album, except for “Alamona”, which is actually a great song. Either it sounds like a long lost OPM gem from the 70s or a retro-hit in the vein of Itchyworms’ “Beer”, only it’s underplayed, underrated, and not a little bit vulgar.

Breeder’s Digest No. X


Cats killing dogs, cocks killing cops

Tarantadong Kalbo posted a cartoon featuring a head of a rooster this morning. For a moment there, I thought it’s one of those revelations — that he’s also a Pavement fan, that it was a Watery, Domestic reference. Until I read the caption. The caption reads “Elmer <3,” a nod to Gerry Alanguilan’s graphic novel of the same name. (Just kidding about that Pavement bit, but TK made a Bly Manor reference just the other day, so…)

Continue reading “Breeder’s Digest No. X”

Breeder’s Digest: San Cisco, Neil Young, Oh, Flamingo!

Why Oh, Flamingo! should change their name to Oh Flamingo

What new artists you discovered this year?
Off the top my head, Khruangbin, Japanese Breakfast, Stella Donnelly, Marren Morris and Men I Trust. Last year it was Mitski, Lucy Dacus, beabadoobee… Khruangbin, Men I Trust and Japanese Breakfast I discovered via YouTube. Maren Morris and Stella Donnelly, I saw them on some website and I probably wouldn’t give them a listen if not for their respective album covers. Continue reading “Breeder’s Digest: San Cisco, Neil Young, Oh, Flamingo!”