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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

Interested in What I Create?


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

entry arrow11:35 AM | If Penguins Could Do It...

But the problem is ...

... not a lot of people are smarter than them penguins.

[via bookslut]


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entry arrow10:18 AM | Calmness

On a pink CR door on the second floor of Scooby's Silliman Avenue, a graffiti in ballpen ink reads: "Si Mr. Casocot Bayot." The first time I saw that a few months ago, I was struck by my remarkable sense of blah. I just shrugged my shoulder and went on urinating. Because I figured, that's true naman. Why should I get affected by other people's misplaced sense of impropriety? Still, I had to wonder: Was it a disgruntled former student I've given a failing mark? Or an unknown enemy with too much free time and ballpen allowance? Or somebody who takes pleasure in advertising other people's private lives because their own lives have fallen flat with utter ordinariness? But I'm not sure they got to me, though, because I am definitely "out" and I make no bones about it. And calling anybody names, I figure, is always the last resort of a desperate troglodyte. But perhaps my utter calmness springs from the memory of watching this character in Don Roos's The Opposite of Sex played by the always under-appreciated Martin Donovan, who plays a very level-headed gay English teacher. When the film opens, he catches a couple of delinquent boys writing graffiti on the CR mirror. I don't remember what it was exactly that they wrote, but I think it was something like: "Mr. Bill Truitt is a fagot." Of course, Mr. Truitt told the redfaced boys to get to their classroom pronto. And taking the marker they left behind, he proceeded to correct their misspelling: "Mr. Bill Truitt is a faggot" -- like any reliable English teacher would. Then he calmly walked out of the CR. I strive to live under that example of calmness despite the sometime intolerance that surrounds me.

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Friday, June 24, 2005

entry arrow8:40 PM | Footnote to Fathers


I wonder what it must have been like, the first time Father learned he had a son on the way. My mother -- a young beautician who happened to be renting a nook in father's building when Father first fell in love with her -- was secretly pregnant, the belly not yet bursting too much with the bundle she had already named Alvin.

Father was a young man then, in Nasipit, a town in the outskirts of Butuan City. My mother told me she took my father's hand one day -- she was 29 and my father 30 -- and placed it wordlessly on her belly, like in the movies. And then he just knew.

Did father jump with joy? Did he cry? Did he kiss my mother and promise her, and the unborn child, a world without want? The details are lost to me, "because some things are better left unsaid," mother says. But it must have been a mixture of unexpected delight, tempered by a devouring fear simmering under the surface. For he was young, and what do young men know of fatherhood?

I look into my own life -- and I presume that the answer is, nothing much.

Nobody teaches anybody about fatherhood. What is perhaps the most demanding job in the world -- akin to that of motherhood (but, of course) -- is surprisingly a career one lands in like the proverbial bolt out of the blue. Almost always purely by accident, if one is careless and lazy, and think condoms are for sissies; and yet even when planned, it still demands the dilemma of cluelessness.

There is no surefire formula to a successful stint at being, suddenly, Dad. It is mostly a haphazard process consisting of trials-and-errors, many of them, with a stake bigger than anything, because what is the core for concern is a young child's future. There is no greater responsibility than that, having someone's future suddenly yoked to your life.

But don't take my word for it. While I have the greatest respect for fathers who truly shine in being devoted parental beings, I am myself no father at all. At 29, a perfectly marriageable age, I have no intention of "spreading" my "seed," as mother called it once.

"A child gives your life direction," an auntie also told me, after another endless inquiry about civil status. The answer in the singular did not please her; trappings of married life, child and all, did.

"But I have no plans to follow any path, much less a child's," is always my quip. Not out of disrespect, but out of carefully worded "escape" from well-intentioned, but unbelievably intrusive, elderly kin.

And sometimes, to a contemporary, I give this answer: "Don't you think there are already too many children, but lesser common sense, in the world? It's a crime to bring one into this all this mess." Sometimes I believe that sincerely; sometimes I think it is just all bull. Often I decide where I stand on whether the day is sunny or rainy. I tell you: no child, no direction. Hehehe.

Sometimes, too, I think I would make a good father. I am at perfect ease among babies and children. My nieces and nephews take to me like an overly tall teddy bear that they could confide and deposit their childhood secrets and kinetic sugar-induced actions in. I delight in their company -- but I think part of the appeal is the fact that I can love them as much as I want, and still know that I can come home every night to a quiet pad. I know there are some of you reading this who may think this confession selfish -- but there you go.

There is just no gravity in me towards fatherhood. I am in perfect contentment with bachelorhood. What I do know of fatherhood has always been a mix of hearsay, horror stories, Hallmark moments, and a thousand scenes of various fatherhoods offered by television.

Dean Francis Alfar, the Palanca-winning fictionist and comicbook honcho, writes about the delights and challenges of being a father in his blog Notes From the Peanut Gallery: "Looking back, I wish someone, anyone, had prepared me for what was to come. As the date approached I tried my best to act the part of a cool-dad-to-be, in control, knowledgeable, prepared. I only half-listened to the advice of other people, confident in my ability to figure things out myself. I thought, how difficult could it be? People have babies all the time. Was it as simple as I thought? Let me put it this way, if my hair wasn't shaved by choice in the first place, I would have torn it all out -- in clumps, by the handful."

He talks about getting a crash course on baby shopping: "When we brought our little daughter home from the hospital, the first thing I realized was that we didn't have a sterilizer for the bottles. So on our very first day home, I left mother and child and rushed to the baby section of Megamall with my dwindling money (unless you plan to have your wife give birth via albulario, the accumulated expenses pack a wallop) and bought everything I thought we needed -- sterilizer, more bottles, nipples, blankets, disposable diapers, wipes, bathtub, towels, socks, mini-tops, a bassinette, the works. And being so clever, I also emptied our bank account and bought things I later realized would not be needed for another six months or more -- large Duplo blocks, a funky stroller, floor pads, a stuffed toy 3 times larger than my baby and a Little Missy Cooking Set. Yes, I went overboard, but the lesson is clear. Understand exactly what you need, and have them ready when you need them."

He talks about the shock of finding out baby formula cost a small fortune. He talks about the meaning of layette. ("Do you know what a layette is?") He talks about the sheer paranoia for the quiet in the nursery while baby is sleeping. ("The odd thing about newborn babies is that they do not move when they're asleep and bundled. This caused me grave concern because, being the paranoid person that I am, I thought my baby had stopped breathing and had become victim to SIDS.") He talks about nipples and diapers. ("I should have watched [television commercials]. Why? Because then I would have known that nipples come in different stages and understood the differences among the competing disposable diapers.") He talks about learning to sleep between 45 minute intervals, and the value of humor in raising a child. ("In the course of the first few months, you'll experience things that may make you decide never to have any more children. The trick is to take things in stride and to keep your sense of humor ... It's important that your child grows up in an environment that is filled with love and laughter, so make sure to set the example. Unless you want to raise a serial killer. Or a congressman.")

Dean is a good father, and I envy him. Sometimes, reading through his missives, I want to be Sage, his daughter. My father, you see, was mostly absent when I was growing up, and by the time he died, I was already a hardheaded teenager who believed in no fathers.

But I believe Father's ghost still haunts me because this is perhaps his unfinished business -- winning back the love of his children, and perhaps even particularly mine. I bear his name after all. Fermin, his name, is also part of mine. And there are days when I feel him around me, and during these surprisingly comforting moments, the pain of the memory of having an absentee father slowly peels away. From the stories of his barkada, as well as that of mother and my eldest brothers, I piece together bit by bit the father I didn't know. One might even say I know him more now dead than he was alive. And even in death, he keeps surprising me with revelations into himself. The good result is of course the fact that I have begun to love him.

A year ago, I was invited to submit a poem for an anthology titled Father Poems, edited by the venerable Krip Yuson and Gemino H. Abad, and published by Anvil. I remember sitting down for that task, and in one go -- as if feeling father's ghostly guidance -- I wrote:

How to Believe in Ghosts
For Fermin

Father, there was no chance to believe
In the impossible: the freshly-dug earth, now
Your home, was mute as was usual, turning away
Even the last howl of mourners coming near.
Their black grieving did not understand, as we did, that
Ties which bound could come loose as the grass that
Would feast on your memory six feet above could, as
Ground swallowed-in the digging for mortal remains.
We are told, as the funeral flowers wilted in the sun, that
Memories should be immortal, but we prayed for no ghosts.
The dead should not speak. We prayed, instead: father, we
Forgive you, for you have sinned. And the burial
Became growing silence as we soon dispersed for lives spent
In battled reflections, the muteness of years bearing down
On children struggling to forget by the bottom of
Beer bottles, or the occasional want for punish. Soon, we
Come, year by year, to some bidding, somehow,
For holy days kept precise -- that last excuse -- to
Listen to some eternal knell your spirit might tell.
Our candles now burn low to capture some
Semblance of closing, the way the ghostly smoke
Wisp among flowers, down to the carabao grass kept
Trim. We wait, and we wait. And life and silence
Become memories built on flimsy hopes, as they must,
To resound to a kind of winged believing.
And then we learn persistence, by the passing
Of days, that even the living must learn to reclaim
Their dead, to Live, to now close
The prayers with which we can finally love
Our dearly departed.

This was my confession to a final belief in fatherhood, even from beyond. Somewhere, Father must be smiling at me.

Belated happy father's day to all.


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Thursday, June 23, 2005

entry arrow12:30 AM | There's That Thing Again

Yay. Sooooo busy, I could burst. Sorry, guys.

(Hey, that's a full moon, right?)


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Saturday, June 18, 2005

entry arrow10:43 AM | What Relaxes

I have been tagged by Jimmy who lives in the limbo of secret blogs. The question: what relaxes me?

The physical. A foot tickle: this brings me to instant heaven, approximating the best of sexual adventures. Brewed coffee. A good massage: done right with the softest of hands, this makes me float. A rigorous work out: the feel of sweat and the adrenaline rush give a certain lightness to how I think. An unexpectedly wild orgasm: this does not need further explaining. A thirty-minute nap: glorious, glorious siesta. The Spanish have it right. A prolonged, soulful kiss: that breathing in of pheromones and the taste of somebody's luscious lips... Hot black tea on a slow afternoon: just the right amount of caffeine to pass the day away. Pinot noir swirling and tangoing with my tongue. Dancing the night away. A long hug from Bubu.

The mental. Putting the last period on a story. A good collection of short stories. Calvin and Hobbes. A novel that meanders beautifully. Something by Milan Kundera, Susan Sontag, David Lodge, and David Leavitt. Barber's Adagio for strings, Op. 11. A good children's book. Pachelbel's Canon. Puccini. The stories of Kit Kwe, Chari Lucero, Susan Lara, Maria LM Fres-Felix, and Vicente Groyon III. Bolipata. 80's Madonna on mad days. A good coffee book. A design challenge in Adobe Pagemaker and Photoshop. Poems by Naya Valdellon. Reruns of Sex and the City. A good laugh. Spongebob Squarepants. Drawing.

The spiritual. Like James's, praying. Friends. Candles. Lamplight. An intelligent feel-good movie like Under the Tuscan Sun. Stargazing. Francois. Meditating in the early morning before the rat race of the day. Waking up before the birds do. A painting by Jutsze Pamate. Siquijor in the summer. Casaroro Falls. Spying on dolphins off Bais. A cock crowing in some quiet countryside. The feel of the wind against my face. The music of the surf on the beach. Listening to angels singing in a darkened auditorium. Sunday lunches with Mother. A day on the beach with my older brothers.

I'm tagging the following people: Dinah Baseleres, Ted Regencia, Kokak Levis, Veronica Montes, Naya Valdellon, Ginny Mata, Resty Odon, Gelo Suarez, Wanggo Gallaga, Dean Alfar, Gabby Lee, and Bubu. Because I really want to know what makes you tick. Go, guys.

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Friday, June 17, 2005

entry arrow6:36 PM | Is This a Children's Story?

This is an illustration by the great Elmer Borlongan.

Can you see this as a children's story? Then join the Canvas Storywriting Contest now.

[emailed in by augie rivera]

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Thursday, June 16, 2005

entry arrow5:59 PM | More Terrible, Delicious Secrets

It is really, extremely addicting. And here are four new ones that struck me, because they hit close to home.

That's exactly me! I have a paralyzing phobia for ringing phones. I absolutely loathe the sound of ringing phones. Especially landline phones. Sometimes cellphones, too. When my cellphone rings, sometimes I would mentally shout at the glowing screen: "Why don't you just text me, asshole?!" But really, this never happened to any of you, whoever is reading this. Umm, I like you.

I feel this way sometimes. But I know God exists. He told me so over the telephone. It rang, and rang...

Not poop with me, no. That's beyond gross, it's crap. (Ahahaha!) But I like the smell of my body after rigourous exercise. It's so earthy.

I know someone who does.

What's your deadliest secret? Do tell.

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entry arrow12:29 PM | Where Ripley Did Not Go

This is pure genius! I wish I had the time to blog like this.

[via cheesedip]


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entry arrow12:25 PM | Disgusting. In Other Words, Read It and Get a Good Laugh.

What do you know... Bachem Macuno f*****d Anne Coulter in the a**, hard. But does Anne Coulter have an a**? Tell me. I'd really like to know.

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entry arrow10:52 AM | The Hate Club

Yes, there are good Christians with good hearts. (Mom is one.) But don't you think this one really gives Christianity a bad name? Fundamentalists. No wonder I don't go to church anymore.

[via search for love in manhattan]

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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

entry arrow7:21 PM | Mark By the Green Light

Photography by moi.

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Saturday, June 11, 2005

entry arrow11:53 PM | Saturday Night

How do I look in the dark?


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entry arrow6:30 PM | In Celebration of Tomorrow's Independence Day, Here's a Message of Hope For Our Country

[hey, ma, the emperor has no clothes]


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Friday, June 10, 2005

entry arrow5:10 PM | Virginal, Stage

You in Manila really should be watching this...

There're two more days left, really. See the festival at the Tanghalang Pilipino. The lineup is impressive -- virginal works by some of the best names in young Philippine theater: Allan Lopez, Elmar Ingles, Eugene Evasco, Chris Martinez, Debbie Tan, Glenn Mas, Vincent de Jesus, Lani Montreal, and J. Dennis Teodosio. I remember Dennis' Si Geegee at si Waterina very well. We workshopped it in Iligan, where we "staged" most of it in an impromptu almost-cabaret-ish act: Dennis was Geegee, and I and Glenn alternated as Waterina. Oh wonderful, campy memories...

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entry arrow12:01 AM | The End of Nostalgia

The rule of memory maintains that the past must always be glorious, tinged with a kind of sepia that approximates the golden. This is how most old folks, for example, essentialize the stories of their youth, those days when things were much simpler, or harder, but when life was, for the most part, immeasurably noble. At least according to them.

"In my days," your lolo could begin, "we had no calculator. We calculated with our heads. Pero ang mga bata ngayon..." And then there is that eventual shaking of the head, always in commiseration, judging the present by the hard virtues of the past, and finding it relentlessly wanting.

There are endless variations of this theme. People spoke much better English before. Politics was the province of true statesmen before. The Philippines was so much richer before -- and second only to Japan! (Why, Singapore and Malaysia were but poverty-stricken hamlets when we were already The Pearl of the Orient!)

The past, it would seem, was a totally different country, bordered away where our passports cannot grant us access. The past has thus become alien, the wonderful nowhere for all of us who know only the intricacies of the present, which is forever mired -- so they tell us -- with the defects incurred by missteps in recent history.

Sometimes, we buy into that story. I am still fascinated, for example, by what seemed to be the effortless elegance of women in the 1950s, that era of bouffant net petticoats or paper nylon petticoats. The great Grace Kelley for me embodied that era very well: she was beautiful, regal, and elegant. She defined glamour. She spoke English with the clipped articulation of aristocrats, but she was also so much more accessible than that. She moved around with that studied grace. She was a figure before an ironic age which has made cynic of most of us. None of my modern movie stars have managed to eclipse that almost iconic sense of style -- not Sharon Stone, not Gwyneth Paltrow, not Angelina Jolie. When Princess Grace (for she had become a princess by then) died in a Monaco car crash in 1982, it signaled the end of an era -- the closing of a heavy curtain between an idealized then, and the harsh realities of now.

In his autobiographical book Growing Up, the writer Russell Baker struggled with this very tango of ebullient past and wanting present. He wrote:

If a parent does lift the curtain a bit, it is often only to stun the young with some exemplary tale of how much harder life was in the old days.

I had been guilty of this when my children were small in the early 1960s and living the affluent life. It galled me that their childhoods should be, as I thought, so easy when my own had been, as I thought, so hard. I had developed the habit, when they complained about the steak being overcooked or the television being cut off, of lecturing them on the harshness of life in my day.

"In my day all we got for dinner was macaroni and cheese, and we were glad to get it."

"In my day we didn't have any television."

"In my day..."

"In my day..."

At dinner one evening a son had offended me with an inadequate report card and, as I leaned back and cleared my throat to lecture, he gazed at me with an expression of unutterable resignation and said, "Tell me how it was in your days, Dad."

I was angry with him for that, but angrier with myself for having become one of those ancient bores whose highly selective memories of the past become transparently dishonest even to small children. I tried to break the habit, but must have failed. A few years later my son was referring to me when I was out of earshot as "the old-timer." Between us there was a dispute about time. He looked upon the time that had been my future in a disturbing way. My future was his past, and being young, he was indifferent to the past.

A few weeks ago, nevertheless, I decided to recapture a sense of the past, because much of what the future seemed to hold for the rest of us did not provide me with so much hope. Tuning into the news of recent days made me want to crawl back to what had seemed to be a more innocent age, when I was young -- far from my current late 20's -- and all I could see before me was an expanse of possibilities.

I wanted to bottle nostalgia, so to speak, and live for a while under its golden-sepia, phantom sun.

I wanted to write a letter.

Not email, no. I'm talking old-fashioned "snail mail" before it was cursed by that very term, and relegated to the dustbin of antiquity.

For me it was a reaching out for a kind of mad equilibrium. Letter-writing promised to be my proverbial message in a bottle, only this time my ocean would be the postal system, which was of course so much surer than the finicky direction of waves, but still without what I considered to be the sterile convenience of electronic correspondence.

Anyone, I think, can remember deriving so much pleasure from this sense of correspondence being adrift, akin to freedom I should think, which is something I needed in an existence -- at least in the current one -- that aspired (is that even the right word?) to equal life in a bell jar.

You have no idea how much I despised emails for a long time, how they piled with so much venomous urgency in all my inboxes -- Gmail, Yahoo, Lycos, Friendster, and Hotmail. I, too, am amazed by the sheer repugnance of electronic correspondence I feel of late. And for a confessed writer, too!

I do miss the slothfulness of snail mail. Because it took time, letters (and our replies to them) were more sincere, I think. All that slow time permits us deeper thoughts, provoking intimacy. All that hand writing permits us careful weighing of words, of ideas. There was none of the current expectations brought about by so much instancy; and none of the telegraphic answers in the name of replying back as soon as we could.

Email seemed to be death itself.

And so I felt I needed to write something down, and to have it all printed out and sent through regular snail mail -- just to catch the reassuring simplicity of old things, of old ways. It is comforting, I tell you, the effort that goes into postal mail: the ritual of paper and envelope, the careful composition, the folding, the sealing, the licking of stamps, the dropping in the slot...

The only thing that seemed amiss in this archaic ritual is the fact that I was writing my letters on my computer. I thought that this was what the twenty-first century had wrought: the loss of the fine art of handwriting.

I could no longer write using my hand.

But can anyone else now? Can you? Without having your writing hand ache, carpal joints and all, from sheer effort and the pressure of fingers wrestling with unfamiliar pen? I can only last all of three minutes, after which my handwriting becomes wobbly. And then the pain comes in... I am so used now to having my fingers dance on the keyboard. And that brings me so much sadness because I used to have the finest cursive when I was a virginal boy in grade school. I remember that my teachers would always call on me to write their lessons on the board for the whole class to copy. I had the classic style of letter-looping down pat; mine was easily readable. But my handwriting today consists mainly of chicken scratches. Sometimes I do not even recognize what I had just written down. They are hieroglyphs.

And so, I wrote and wrote and wrote with so much delight -- to friends and family. To someone in Sydney, Australia. Someone in Bristol, England. Two in Fribourg, Switzerland. Someone in Spain. Two in Manila. One in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. One in Los Angeles, California. Someone in Skokie, Illinois. Someone in Ellerstadt, Germany. Someone in Kampala, Uganda. Someone in Tokyo, Japan.

Wonderful genuine letters and all ending with that flourish of an actual signature.

And then I went to the post office.

There, I discovered that most of the letters cost P207 to send, each. And if I wanted to send by courier instead, letter-parcels would cost approximately P2,000, each. I gulped, and something in me died.

I ended up mailing only five of those letters, totaling P600.

I realized right then and there, while my letters were being weighed in careful measure in the postal office's scale, that nostalgia can be quite expensive. Email may be cheap and often impersonal, but for P20 an hour, you could very well reach the rest of the world.

That thought was both reassuring, and sad. In the far corners of my mind, I played taps for nostalgia, and then I went on my way.


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Thursday, June 09, 2005

entry arrow11:41 PM | Anne Bancroft, 73

Goodbye, Mrs. Robinson.

The New York Times' Robert Berkvist and Chicago Sun-Times' Roger Ebert note on her passing.

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entry arrow10:51 PM | Eeww!

Is it just me...

...or does this give you the creeps? Katie Holmes always repeating her "undying love and admiration" for her new man on TV actually sounds so hokey, she seems like a bad actress trying out a forgettable part.

"I couldn't be happier. I'm so happy," she says. Eeww.

"He's the most amazing man in the whole world," she says. Eeww.

"He's my superhero," she says. Eeww.

I tell you, hokey.


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entry arrow3:01 PM | Letting Go


I believe that sometimes, the measure of one's heart lies in its capacity to let go. At the best possible time, of course, before the very fact of keeping lets in the rot, and destroys the very thing we hold dear.

I can fit this emotional template to many things in the world. There's the mother bird, for example, which must literally push its little offsprings out from the comforts of the nest, into the void of the air, that they might learn how to fly.

There're our biological mothers who must also push us out from the cocoon of their wombs and into the harsh light of the real, breathing world. It is vicious letting go, if you come to think about it, but one springing from an instinct of love and biological drive -- else the baby dies. The first cry we make as newborn babies is that of anguish really, because deprived suddenly of the almost-selfish sustenance and creature comforts of what had kept us.

We let go, thus, in order to grow. Or else we rot.

My own life contains varied examples of this theme. (Yours, too, most probably.) There's the post-adolescent flight from my childhood home, for instance, to seek out the unfettered sense of living on my own. And other things. But I will recount in this writing something else, and not anything that will typically come up in your mind.

I am going to talk about my video collection.

I probably have one of the most extensive video collections in all of Dumaguete -- nay, this side of the Philippines. Of the last count, I had around 500 video cassettes of various titles in one of the aparadors in my pad in Tubod. (This is not counting the over a hundred titles in my current DVD collection.) An acknowledged cineaste, which is fancy French for a moviehead, I first started collecting movies when I was a junior in high school and had then been lured by the magic of the silver screen. I had read earlier an article by Edward Behr in The International Herald Tribune Magazine where he wrote that "our favorite films are our unlived lives unfolding in a magic mirror," and that no other art form has quite the same power to shape our views of ourselves and the outside world. Films, thus, have the authority of our dreams.

They did. Films transported me to stories that went beyond the restrictions of my geographical horizons. They were passports to many worlds, and for once I had a grammar of understanding everything else in the universe. I had to collect them -- because collecting them meant collecting the world.

Since then -- and much more manically when I began teaching Film Appreciation in Silliman University's School of Communication in 1999 -- the collection grew and grew. It was an eclectic list for the most part, and notoriously snobbish of Hollywood trash, save for Hollywood "trash" that I loved. It began with Betamax. (Betamax! Does anyone still remember Betamax?) Went through a very long VHS phase, skipped the Laserdisc, and approached the VCD with much caution, because the latter was a clumsy format that halved movies into two discs -- a sacrilege.

The Betamax tapes, one could say, laid down the thesis, or the criteria, around which I began and nurtured the collection. I had five titles in the beginning: Stanley Kubrick's Lolita, Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder and To Catch a Thief, Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise's West Side Story, and Mike Nichols's Biloxi Blues. The take on each one: a thoughtful, controversial art film before the term "art film" was even coined; early demonstrations of auteur theory meeting the grand old days of Hollywood; Hollywood at one of its musical best; and film at its most contemplative, using humor for insight.

Some came into my possession as repositories of memories of old college friends and places traveled. I bought George Cukor's Born Yesterday in a clearance sale off Mitaka Station in Japan. Danny Fernandez gave me Gene Saks's Brighton Beach Memoirs, John Hughes's The Breakfast Club, and Lawrence Kasdan's The Big Chill, because they reminded him of childhood, high school, and college in California.

The collection soon grew to include the best of the Hollywood heavyweights, including Martin Scorsese's After Hours, Raging Bull, and Taxi Driver, Woody Allen's Annie Hall, Bullets Over Broadway, and Manhattan, Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, David Lynch's Blue Velvet, James L. Brooks' Broadcast News and Terms of Endearment, Brian de Palma's Carrie, The Untouchables, and Dressed to Kill, Roman Polanski's Chinatown, Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jaws, Saving Private Ryan, Schindler's List, and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, George Lucas' Star Wars Trilogy, William Friedkin's The Exorcist, James Ivory's Maurice, Milos Forman's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Mike Nichols's Postcards From the Edge and Working Girl, Peter Bogdanovich's The Last Picture Show, Robert Altman's The Player and Short Cuts, Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, and James Cameron's Titanic.

Yes, even Titanic, that most saccharine of all Hollywood pictures. And yet even that distinction did not faze my collecting, and soon I had some of the best (and worst? -- but divinely worse!) of the Hollywood assembly line: Cameron Crowe's Jerry Maguire, Tony Richardson's The Hotel New Hampshire, Robert Benton's Kramer vs. Kramer, Roger Kumble's Cruel Intentions, John Landis' Coming to America, Paul Verhoeven's Basic Instinct, Tommy O'Haver's Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss, Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles, Amy Heckerling's Fast Times at Ridgemont High, John Hughes' Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Herbert Ross' Footloose, Andrew Bergman's The Fugitive, Doug Liman's Go, Robert Redford's Ordinary People, Barbra Streisand's The Prince of Tides, John Madden's Shakespeare in Love, Rob Reiner's This is Spinal Tap and When Harry Met Sally..., Curtis Hanson's Wonder Boys, George Dunning's Yellow Submarine, Richard Lester's A Hard Day's Night, and Andrew Fleming's Threesome.

Among the independents, I had Hettie MacDonald's Beautiful Thing, Kevin Smith's Clerks, Neil Jordan's The Crying Game, Stephen Frears' Dangerous Liaisons, Richard Kelly's Donnie Darko, Mina Shum's Double Happiness, Karol Reisz's The French Lieutenant's Woman, Terry Zwigoff's Ghost World, Christopher Ashley's Jeffrey, Wayne Wang's The Joy Luck Club and Smoke, Steven Soderbergh's Kafka, Joe Mantello's Love! Valour! Compassion!, David DeCoteau's Leather Jacket Love Story, Tom DiCillo's Living in Oblivion, Ang Lee's The Ice Storm, Danny Boyle's Shallow Grave, Baz Luhrmann's Strictly Ballroom, Francois Girard's Thirty-Three Short Films About Glenn Gould, Agnieszka Holland's Total Eclipse, and Jim Fall's Trick.

But I also had some of the very rare ones. Including assembled clips by the Lumiere brothers who pioneered the whole cinematic art form, as well as Georges Melies who, in A Trip to the Moon, first used montage to create what would be the mother of all special effects. I had Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali's Un Chien Andalou and F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu, probably the best vampire movie ever made.

Of the old masters, I had Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, Robert Weine's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Sergei Eisenstein's The Battleship Potemkin, Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush, Jean Renoir's Grand Illusion, Alfred Hitchcock's Marnie, Rear Window, Birds, Vertigo, and Psycho, Nicholas Ray's Rebel Without a Cause, and Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard.

Then there are the controversial films, which would include Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris, Larry Clark's Kids (about sex among teenagers), Nagisa Oshima's In the Realm of Passion and In the Realm of the Senses (both about obsessive love and murder), Bruce LaBruce's Hustler White (about male prostitution), Anonymous' Pink Narcissus (one of the earliest underground erotica ever made), Antonia Bird's Priest (about gay priests), David O. Russell's Spanking the Monkey (about incest), and Roeland Kerboasch's For A Lost Soldier (about pedophilia),

And then there were the foreign-language films, which opened my ways to the various ways of the rest world: Vittorio de Sica's The Bicycle Thief, Marleen Gorris' Antonia's Line, Shekhar Kapur's Bandit Queen, Nikita Mikhalkov's Burnt By the Sun, Pedro Almodovar's Carne Tremolo and The Flower of My Secret, Giusseppe Tornatore's Cinema Paradiso, Ang Lee's Eat Drink Man Woman and The Wedding Banquet, Chen Kaige's Farewell My Concubine, Yasujiro Ozu's Floating Weeds, Tomas Gutierrez Alea and Juan Carlos Tabio's Fresa y Chocolate, Wong Kar-Wai's Happy Together, Jacques Tati's Jour de Fete, Jan Sverak's Kolya, Patrice Chereaux's La Reine Margot, Andre Techine's Les roseaux sauvages, Alfonso Arau's Like Water for Chocolate, Giusseppe Tornatore's Malena, Danis Tanovic's No Man's Land, Agnieszka Holland's Olivier Olivier, Zhang Yimou's Raise the Red Lantern, Akira Kurosawa's Ran and Rashomon, Albert Lamorisse's The Red Balloon, Tran Anh Hung's The Scent of Green Papaya, Francois Truffaut's Shoot the Piano Player and Small Change, Andrei Tartovsky's Solaris, Jaco van Dormael's Toto le Heros, and Alejandro Gonzales Innarritu's Amores Perros.

Among the documentaries, I had the extremely hard-to-find Robert Flaherty's Nanook of the North and Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will, as well as Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's The Celluloid Closet, Terry Zwigoff's Crumb, Alek Keshishian's Madonna: Truth or Dare, Jyll Johnstone's Martha and Ethel, and Douglas Keeve's Unzipped. I also had two volumes of the New York Center for Visual History's American Cinema series, one on Romantic Comedy and Film Noir and the other on The Studio System and Film in the Television Age.

And then there were the Filipino films one rarely gets to rent in Videocity: Kidlat Tahimik's Mababangong Bangungot, Chito Rono's Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa and Itanong Mo sa Buwan, Lino Brocka's Bayan Ko: Kapit sa Patalim, Maynila Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag, Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang, and Ina, Kapatid, Anak, Ishmael Bernal's Broken Marriage, Manila By Night: City After Dark, and Relasyon, Mario O'Hara's Bulaklak ng City Jail, Mike de Leon's Kakabakaba Ka Ba?, Kisapmata, and Sister Stella L., Marilou Diaz-Abaya's Karnal and Moral, Carlos Siguion-Reyna's Ang Lalaki sa Buhay ni Selya, Jose Javier Reyes's Live Show, Lupita Aquino-Kashiwahara's Minsa'y Isang Gamu-Gamo, and Peque Gallaga's Scorpio Nights, Unfaithful Wife, and Virgin Forest. There were also Nick Deocampo's famous documentaries, including Oliver, Isaak, Memories of Old Manila, and The Sex Warrior and the Samurai.

A veritable treasure trove of film titles. And what I have listed is only half of them.

And so we have come to the end -- to complete my thesis, and to explain the presence of past tenses all over the list: I have let go -- donated all of them to the Silliman University Library. Because my pad is too small to accommodate a burgeoning library of movies, and books. Because DVDs are so much easier to collect, in the name of portability and long-life. Because Betamax is a dinosaur. Because my VHS player is not working anymore. Because the videos are just being stored in one of my aparadors, bearing too much of time and humidity -- and molds have started to grow. That last one was the clincher. Molds were slowly defacing Kurosawa and Ozu and Chaplin and Welles. I couldn't bear that. At least, in the Library, the archiving system can bring back their health -- and when I want to revisit them, I could just take out a library card...

When I was putting them in the box for their transport Thursday, and when they finally arrived at their destination, I felt my heart constrict and cry. This box, after all, contains the testament to my days as ardent moviewatcher. That's more than ten years in my life. To let go was to feel pain, like losing a child.

But I let go.


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entry arrow10:00 AM | Church

Teng is doing some soul-searching regarding church-going. I can't say I blame her, because I'm in exactly the same boat. (And if anyone of you "religious" people say, "Ahh! Backslide..." I'll slap you hard till Kingdom come, you holier-than-thou farthole!) I stopped going to Bread of Life because the student who traumatized me the most as a college teacher goes there. I told myself: Heck, she goes to that church more regularly than I do, and look at what she actually is: A BITCH WITH A HEART OF COAL. I'm probably better off in my bed, sleeping, Sunday morning, or Sunday afternoon.


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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

entry arrow5:50 PM | Crucify Them!

I remember an old joke which I first heard when I was a child, and which, for me, crystallized the carefully and subconsciously constructed social stigma about being different, sexually. Most of the details of this particular joke I have already forgotten, but I do remember the punchline verbatim. It went this way: "Ang mga bayot, ilansang sa krus!" (All gays should be crucified!)

And I remember how people laughed so hard. I was a kid, and I laughed, too.

Today, I think back on all of that, and this is my realization: How can intimations of murder be treated as a joke? And why did people laugh so wholeheartedly?

Or: Have I just lost my sense of humor? Am I too politically correct?

But if the joke's on you, would you appreciate it as something merely humorous?

I remember only too well a Conrado de Quiros essay about the not-so-innocent nature of the jokes we say. He once took to task, in his wonderful essay "Brown Skin, White Masks," the actress Vina Morales for laughing at an Aeta joke, and labeled it racism:

Its very innocence is the crux of its guilt. It's the sort of thing that can easily be waved off by saying one is sorry, one didn't mean any harm by it. Which will probably be well meant. But that is how the indigenous people are trampled upon in the worst of all -- innocently. By remarks that people are compelled to ignore or accept or laugh at at risk of being called humorless, or fault-finder, or makulit.

In that light then, no joke is ever free of sin.

And in the light of the punchline I've mentioned, this seems to be a truism for our times: Perhaps only the strongest person can ever be gay, and thrive. Even strong ones die for no other reason, except that they are different -- and for so many people that very difference necessitates even murder itself.

I write this in the memory of Matthew Shepard, who did die.

Who was Matthew Shepard? "Matthew was not very large, at 5'2" and 110 pounds, but he had a big heart and was extremely brave," says Winnie Stachelberg, a human rights activist, of the memory of Shepard, whose life and death has been movingly chronicled in the play and HBO movie The Laramie Project. "He had the courage to live honestly and openly in less than ideal circumstances. Unfortunately, like many gay men and lesbians, there is often a high price to pay for living a life of dignity and respect."

(Dignity and respect? Some people did not even think so. "MATT SHEPARD ROTS IN HELL." "AIDS KILLS FAGS DEAD." "GOD HATES FAGS." These were just few of the protest signs put up by one Rev. Fred Phelps and his supporters, as they picketed the Shepard murder trials.)

When they found Matthew Shepard's unconscious, beaten body on the morning of October 7, 1998, they thought he was a scarecrow.

He wasn't. He was a young man soon to die from fatal wounds, dying for being -- in a world of intolerance and moral fanaticism -- gay.

He wanted everybody to call him "Matt," a nice-enough nickname which conjures a personality that was aptly him: an affable college boy in Laramie, Wyoming on the brink of a life full of possibilities.

On October 6, the 21-year-old met Aaron James McKinney and Russel Arthur Henderson in a bar. After he confided to them that he was gay, they deceived him into leaving with them in their car. He was robbed, brutally beaten, tied to a fence, then left for dead for 18 straight hours -- tied to a wooden fence outside Laramie, 30 miles northwest of Cheyenne. McKinney and Henderson also found his address and proceeded to burglarize his home.

Shepard was discovered 18 hours later, alive and unconscious. He died in a hospital on October 12, 1998. The blood on Shepard's face had been partially washed away by tears, indicating that he had been conscious, for some time, after the beating. He had been pistol-whipped 18 times with a .357-caliber Magnum.

The wages of hate, indeed, is murder.

Today, outlined in a recent book published by the late Pope, gayness is even considered "evil." As a lapsed Protestant but full-time Christian and humanist, I considered it a point of pride that I once looked up to this man as a towering symbol of spirituality, muscular intellect, and integrity. He was a man usually unfazed by tiring traditions, ready to embrace necessary change to reflect the spirit of the times. He wasn't like that primitive Pope who once forced Galileo to recant his astronomical sacrilege. But was he?

What happened?

There are no words to explain why, and I will let my good friend, and extraordinary logophile, James Dalman to say the things I want to say, but can't:

Poor us. With the Vatican's hateful opinion of homosexuals everywhere, we have officially been lowered to the level of the banal, the perverse, and the debauched. To say that we are evil is to justify the Laramie killing and a host of others before it. To tag us as un-Christian is to animalize faith. If there was anyone in the world who should bestow sympathy on us, it should be the Pope himself. After all, he personifies God and embodies his soul. Is bigotry of God's? It's of the devil's.

For a while, it seemed like gay men and women have come a long way from the dark days when homosexuality was considered a psychological aberration, and necessitated electric shock therapy. (It took the American Psychological Association until 1974 to strike homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.) But the 1990s was a decade of slowly growing tolerance. Then George W. Bush, in a paranoid post-September 11 world, stepped in and led the way to a resurgence of institutionalized "moral" crusades.

In the Philippines, that institutionalized hatred against gay men and women takes the form of regular news stories showcasing the arrest of gay people caught in the middle of lewd acts in various spots of clandestine meetings: movie theaters, parks, city streets, bars, and bath houses. Stories such as these have taken such regularity in news programming, it isn't even news anymore.

What is so newsy about theater raids conducted by the moral police and a television crew? It's a regular rite of crucifixion and shame, seen almost every month with such vicious regularity. And for what? Ratings. According to a reliable source, "gay" news always gets top ratings for any news show.

Think about that. Media as capitalist vulture, donning the cape of morality not for the latter's sake, but to give prurient news bites in the name of journalism.

And yet, and yet... Gay men and women are everywhere. In Sis, a popular morning show in GMA, the Raging Divas have a segment all their own. That's a daily dose of transvestitism unseen in the whole history Philippine television, save that quaint pioneer, the Super Sireyna segment of Eat Bulaga. Even Mel and Joey features drag queens regularly, and GMA greenlighted the first openly-gay TV show, Out. It has now gone off the air, but that is to be expected of all pioneering efforts. (Think Ellen, which eventually paved the way for Will & Grace.) There's now Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. There's Queer as Folk. There's Six Feet Under and Oz. There's Brini Maxwell giving Martha Stewart a run for her money.

History and all of civilization has been shaped by gay men and women as well. For a long time, though, that wasn't the case. Gerald Unks once wrote:

Within the typical secondary school curriculum, homosexuals do not exist. They are 'nonpersons' in the finest Stalinist sense. They have fought no battles, held no offices, explored nowhere, written no literature, built nothing, invented nothing and solved no equations. The lesson to the heterosexual student is abundantly clear: homosexuals do nothing of consequence. To the homosexual student, the message has even greater power: no one who has ever felt as you do has done anything worth mentioning.

That has of course been proven wrong. What would the West be if Alexander the Great had not redrawn the political maps, and led to the grandeur that was Greece? Julius Caesar, who loved both his oysters and his snails, so to speak, did the same thing and led eventually to the greatness of the Roman Empire. And where would literature be without William Shakespeare, or Oscar Wilde, or Walt Whitman, or Marcel Proust, or Nick Joaquin? Fashion without Calvin Klein and Tom Ford and Inno Sotto? Film without Ishmael Bernal and Lino Brocka and Jeffrey Jeturian? Music without Cole Porter and Elton John and Melissa Etheridge? Art without Andy Warhol? Economics without John M. Keynes? Heroes without Abraham Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt? Movie magic without Marlene Dietrich, James Dean, Montgomery Clift, and Rock Hudson? The Bible without King James? Philosophy without Aristotle?

They are all great men and women, and they are all gay.

Newsweek had a recent article about gay men influencing the very notion of relationship -- often heterosexual -- itself. The article posited that what we know today as the cultural arbiters of male-female dynamics largely spring from the minds of gay men.

James Poniewozik writes:

A curious thing is going on in the U.S. Even as the nation is writing gays out of the definition of its most exalted relationship, gay writers -- like Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry and Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy -- are behind the TV shows that are most provocatively defining straight relationships. HBO's Six Feet Under, the multilayered story of the lives and loves of a family that runs a funeral home, sprang from the mind of gay screenwriter Alan Ball (American Beauty). Before it, HBO's Sex and the City, which set the standard for frank talk about women and love, was created by Darren Star and later run by Michael Patrick King, both gay. (Later this year, King debuts The Comeback, an HBO sitcom starring Lisa Kudrow as an actress trying to revive her career.)

In fact, that notion goes into almost everything: Your sense of celebrity? Gay Hollywood. Your ideal of femininity? Gay men behind all of our beauty pageants and beauty queens. Your street language? Extracts from old sward vocabulary. Dedma. Keber.

The paradox becomes this: while much of the world expressly disdain homosexuality, they gloriously -- often without clue -- make themselves part of a culture largely shaped by gay men and women.

This point was made manifest to me one time when I went to a party, and The Village People's "Y.M.C.A." suddenly blared out of the speakers. The catchy and familiar dance tune drove everybody to the dance floor, and everybody was soon spelling out the acronym with various body parts. Everybody. The girls. The guys. The machos from school. And I smiled to myself and said: Do they even know this used to be the Gay Anthem of a bygone era? That the song is a story about a young man, an innocent country bumpkin, who comes to the big city, and finds love and intimacy in the showers and bedrooms of the YMCA hostel, which in the 1970s was a famous New York mecca for up-and-coming gay men?

Which makes the current homophobic air a paradox, really. A few months ago, I knew of the first instance of gay bashing in the darkened corners of Escano Street off El Camino Blanco in Dumaguete. And two still unsolved murder cases in Dumaguete involved gay men. One was that of a public school teacher. The other a well-known fashion-designer who was hogtied with his own phone wires, and then set afire.

We can ask why, but there are no forthcoming answers.

The psychology of homophobia is actually quite interesting. Why do some people hate gay people with such viciousness, and often without due cause or effort by their victims?

It's all about "mirrors," a friend once told me. Some people, confronted with a kasarian so much like theirs but "perverted" in a queer fashion, "see" the sexual possibilities of their own "straight" selves. And they are so afraid of what they see, they will rather beat that representation out with hurtful words (like "Bayot!" or "Bakla!"), or murdering tools.

In other words, if you hate gays so much without any direct or clear reason, chances are you're gay yourself, and deathly afraid of it. So, if you think about it, if you are ostensibly "straight," and yet you find yourself rising to anger just seeing gay people, quickly look into your self. The anger might not really be about the people incurring your wrath. It could be your own sexual insecurity speaking. Most homophobes, strictly speaking, are closeted gay men and women. Consider the recent case of Jim West who, as a conservative Republican mayor of Spokane, Washington, was well-known for his rabid anti-gay views. It turns out, he was very gay himself -- only a hidden or closeted one. From people like him, their jeers and judgments become their shields, their deflectors. (Somebody should tell the macho Tulfo brothers this.)

So, tonight, I watch another news story detailing yet another raid in, of all channels, NBN. A significant part of me, of course, says that the police is right: a movie theater should never be a place to procure sex. It is, for the lack of a better word, malaswa. A private act is a private act, and justice -- especially when it comes to prosecuting those whose libido goes towards minors -- knows no sexual preference.

But I can't help but think it goes beyond that. The raid is a manifestation of a systematized stigma for gayness: the humiliation is complete, with handcuffed men being forcibly shone with lights and a microphone thrust to the office to get some kind of contrite confession.

Examine regular newspaper headlines concerning crimes, for example. When a straight man rapes a girl, the headline objectively reads: "Man rapes 12 year old girl." But when a gay man rapes, the gayness is always taken into account: "Bakla gumahasa ng tinedyer." Why is this? Think of the otherwise. Do we see headlines like, "Heterosexual man rapes girl"?

The message seems to be this: If you are gay, we are going to humiliate you on national television.

Going back to that joke I wrote about in the beginning of this essay... The last time a joke so much like this became very popular, it was then to equate Jews to useless rodents in pre-World War II Germany. The result: six million people slaughtered in the Nazi holocaust machine.

No joke is ever innocent. Eventually, things like these are no laughing matter.

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Monday, June 06, 2005

entry arrow4:30 PM | Burgis Ko. Ikaw Pud?

This week, I can't wait to get my hands of my copy of Mariel N. Francisco and Fe Maria C. Arriola's prize-winning The History of the Burgis, courtesy of dearest Teng who bought it for me, and is sending it in a day or so. (I tried ordering the book online in Libros Filipinos, but ang hass-el talaga pare.)

Why am I so interested? Let's face it, I'm burgis, you're burgis, most people in my circle are burgis, whether we like it or not. (Kung ayaw mo ng Pilipino, bourgeoisie na lang.) Might as well own up to it and see the roots of our class, our kind. (It's also research for my novel about the surfaces of class...)

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Friday, June 03, 2005

entry arrow8:56 PM | Fahrenheit 451 Comes True


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Thursday, June 02, 2005

entry arrow10:38 PM | Terrible, Delicious Secrets

I stumbled on this in Veronica Montes's blog, and she is right. This is extremely addicting, in a voyeuristic kind of way.

Secrets -- especially anonymous ones, in postcard-size, and all done up in tinsel and color and cut-outs and what-not -- are fascinating because they strip all of us to our barest selves, down to our darkest sides that I think make us so much more human because they do not deny the animal within us. Animals that secretly loathe, that secretly pine for contraband dreams, that secretly hope beyond all the odds, that secretly hate and murder in our daytime fantasies, that secretly wish we are somewhere else and not here.

I'm wishing there's a book on this soon. The New York Times' Sarah Boxer writes:

One odd thing about PostSecret is that there's a real disconnection between what the confessions are and what the readers think they are. One reader from Texas wrote, "Thank you so much for building a window into so many souls, even if it only shines light on the darkest part." A reader in Australia wrote: "Each is a silent prayer of hope, love, fear, joy, pain, sorrow, guilt, happiness, hatred, confidence, strength, weakness and a million other things that we all share as human beings... there is no fakeness here."

No fakeness? Oh, but there is. And it is the fakeness, the artifice and the performance that make this confessional worth peeking at. The secret sharers here aren't mindless flashers but practiced strippers. They don't want to get rid of their secrets. They love them. They arrange them. They tend them. They turn them into fetishes. And that's the secret of PostSecret. It isn't really a true confessional after all. It is a piece of collaborative art.

What's your deadliest secret? I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours.

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entry arrow8:17 PM | From Cassidy the Lemur

So here's an interesting survey.

1. Reply with your name in the comment box and I will write something I like about you.
2. I will then tell what song/movie/icon reminds me of you.
3. If I were to apply an o'clock to you, it would be...
4. I will try to name a single word that best describes you.
5. I'll tell you the most memorable moment I've had with you.
6. I will tell you what animal you remind me of.
7. I'll then tell you something that I've always wondered about you.
8. Put this in your journal.

Ginny did me:

What she likes about me. You make people feel special. You appreciate beauty in all its forms, and you are open to the universe in every possible way. (Aww, that's sweet!)

What song/movie/icon I remind her of me. David Cassidy. (This David Cassidy? Is there a resemblance?)

If she were to apply an o'clock to me, it would be... Midnight. (Dark, man.)

A single word that best describes me. Inspiring. (Oh?)

For her, the most memorable moment she has had with me was... In the prison cell in O.K. Pensione, on our last night, when you were trying to convince me to go out with the rest of the group. I was lying stomach down on the bed, flipping through your photos of us, while you kept brushing the hair out of my eyes. (I did?)

The animal I remind her of. A lemur. (This animal? Are my eyes really that big?)

Something she has always wondered about me... If you had a chance to migrate the country permanently, would you? (In a second. I never belonged here in the Philippines. Only Dumaguete feels remotely like home, and barely. I think I'll live in Seattle for the rest of my life. I love the rain in Seattle.)

Now, let's try to do you.


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entry arrow8:08 PM | Freak This

Abortion leads to a major drop in crime? Photos in online dating sites are a must? Spanking is good for your kids? Interesting. Alas, National Bookstore in the Philippines -- everybody knows this -- is more commonly known as National Disaster. So, please, somebody, buy me this book.

Here's the website. Bill O'Reilly talks about it here. And Nerve.com interrogates the authors here.

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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

entry arrow10:54 PM | The End of Having No Face

Not knowing the most vital of things -- the face, the name -- can take on a certain romance, the kind we have for what escapes us. There is a tingle in the knowledge of deeply-held mystery, the bloodbound secret, and the anticipation of eventual unmasking. Just like the striptease, where the stripping is the main deal and the revelation of the naked body the hohum foregone conclusion, we take to the fascinating anonymous like a fever.

Like all sane mass communication graduates, I wanted to be Bob Woodward -- or at least the Robert Redford version of the famed journalist. Heck, I watched Alan J. Pakula's All the President's Men a total of six times. One of the attraction was the shadowy identity of the world's most famous whistle blower. But suddenly, just like that, we know finally who Deep Throat is. And it is quite a letdown, this finally knowing.

He's an old guy. Far from the strapping Hal Holbrook in Pakula's movie. The journalist Hank Stuever writes about it in -- where else? -- in The Washington Post:

What's gone is the last best secret, wrested from the grip of the select few who'd vowed to keep it. The hiding of Deep Throat's identity took on a larger mythic status than any scoop Deep Throat provided, and much of Washington -- media, officialdom, even tourists who snapped the Watergate complex -- guarded the almost holy belief in Deep Throat. He was the perfect, nameless god. It was the idea that reporters (and their background sources) could save the world, and that trust was still trust, and truth was still true. People now go to parking garages to get their cars.

What could be more of a letdown than finding out who Deep Throat is? Finding it out in Vanity Fair? And not really finding it out in Vanity Fair so much as feeling it crash-land across the Internet and the cable news networks, days before the magazine even hits the stands? Finding out that you don't care anymore? Watching it not resonate among people younger than 30?

An era finally passes. But I admit I've always liked Andrew Fleming's film version of Deep Throat's identity better in the comedy Dick.

And talking about revelations of identity, now we finally know who the incredibly hilarious, fabulously fascinating The Search For Love in Manhattan is. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Joel Derfner -- your modern Oscar Wilde, and everybody's witty guide to the emotional roller coaster we call New York.

And he has a new book of gay haikus.

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