Friday, February 29, 2008

Oz 2008: Sydney Bookshop

Peter and I roamed around the near our hotel, the Intercon. We found a bookshop and I asked Peter if the bookstore had an Asian literature section. He suggested that I ask them myself.

A young lady gave me a puzzled look when I asked her the question. She asked her supervisor for help.

I asked again, "Do you have an Asian literature section?"

She answered, "I am sorry we don't segregate."

My jaw dropped but she continued, "We arrange the authors' names alphabetically."

So I realized that I hold prejudices against writers of my race. All that time, I had been thinking of Asian literature, American literature and European literature. I was borrowing a very Eurocentric view of English literature. And the most ironic of all is a white Australian helped me discover it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Oz 2008: Suvarnabumi Airport

It was easy to fall asleep last night but it was not easy to stay asleep.

I spent a very long time packing my things and it is mainly because I have to think one month ahead. At the same time, I have not been to this country yet. Should I pack warm clothes or should they all be summer clothes? How much hair gel should I bring?

Yes, that is right. I have already gotten rid of my curls and now sporting a modified Mohawk. The stylist had a difficult time though because he is not used to Filipino kink.

I am here at the Suvarnabhumi Airport waiting for my flight. I still have some hours to waste. I did not expect the airport bus would be that fast. It only took us one hour to get here and it was a very comfortable ride.

I am now munching on some nuts and drinking a bottle of water. I cannot get in the boarding gate yet as I have to consume this one liter of Singha delight first.

This adventure has already started very smoothly.

Monday, February 25, 2008

My First Love

I was with my friends last night showing them photos of a barbecue party. I stumbled upon an old picture of my very first performance. I was only 18 years old back then and it was in the middle of Makati and I was about to strip myself down to my briefs. I was performing my "Kakatihan" piece. It is about a man who gave his lover pubic lice because heis sleeping with other men also.

It has been a long time ago and yet the desire to perform is as strong if not stronger than ever. I cannot let go of my first love.

I have been living my life very honestly and yet I desperately desire to be someone else. I want to be infront of people again but not as myself. I want to have a different face. I want to have a different tone. I want to have a different movement.

I am dying to perform again.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Filipino Kink

I really do not know what to do with my hair sometimes. Anyway, this will be gone before I fly to Sydney. It might be a Mohawk or a skinhead or braided hair extensions. I have yet to decide.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Tsotsi (DVD)

This is another compulsive buy but I do not regret it.

Tsotsi is a teenager who is lost in a place of violence and coldness. But a twist of fate taught him humanity and gentleness. I am sure it was very challenging for Presley Chweneyagae to portray this broken person but he was able to make Tsotsi's disposition understandable. And there is the beautiful Terry Pheto who is very mesmerizing as the single mother/widow who helped Tsotsi realize what a child needs.

The setting of the story is as important as the story itself. I know poor communities like the one in the movie exist in many parts of the world but this movie shows that there is still some kindness in a very harsh place.

The audio and video quality of the DVD are great. It is dual-layer and the movie is only 90 minutes long so it has all the space to stretch is pixels and bits.

The Pinoy Vote

Ramiele Malubay may not be the best Filipino singer around but she is definitely the best Filipino contestant that American Idol has ever had. She is also one of the best singers in this season. Many of the contestants only look good but does not deliver very well.

It is amusing to know her choice of songs. They are traditional contest pieces back home where everyone is always belting and performing circus acts with their vocal chords. The judges say that she is such a small person to contain such a big voice. But then many of our belters are really really short.

Ramiele is very bold to mention that she is a Filipino in every appearance. This might work to her disadvantage because viewers will see her as a foreigner and not as an American Idol. On the other hand, there are tons of Filipinos in the US and we love supporting one of our own.

American Idol is one of the things I am going to miss during my tour of Australia. Can anyone tell me where I can watch the episodes? Is there an American Idol in Australia? Which channel?

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Bet Collector (DVD)

It is really hard to classify this film. It has a plot but it is not the most important element. It seems to be character-driven but there is no katharsis especially on the part of the main character, Amy.

I will try my best to describe the movie because it is ironically a Herculian task for such a small production. There is an illegal numbers game in the Philippines called "jueteng". Gina Pareno as Amy is a well-liked bet collector (or kubrador in Tagalog) who is always looked after by the spirit of her dead soldier-son. It shows three days of her little and arguably insignificant life.

Gina Pareño is brilliant as a secretly grieving mother and she takes all the peopleunder her care. She is very sympathetic although not quite immaculate. The small community she lives in is very typical in Manila and I am sure many of the extras are real residents.

The director is wise in his choices: hand held-camera giving the actors freedom to move around and not think of its presence and long languid scenes that enables to viewers to feel at home in the narrow alleys.

The DVD is only a single-layer disc with no subtitles that I bought in Manila but the picture quality is great and the sound very realistic as it was recorded live. I am sure this will be a movie that will be enjoyed by many Filipinos for generations to come.

THX 1138 (2-disc DVD)

No wonder this movie is not popular. It sucks big time!

I have never been a fan of George Lucas. I have hated the Star War movies because the characters look funny and the story is melodramatic. Whenever he makes movies, he tries so hard for everything to look ridiculous. And what is the result? A remotely believable movie.

I am trying so hard to look for something good about this movie. Well, I guess it is the remastering of the movie. The video is crisp and there is no apparent pixelation or compression. SUH's freckles are so vivid and her eyelashes look very delicate. She is so beautiful that she looks very inviting to touch.

The plot was all over the place and so was the development of the characters. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the sounds and images projected that it is not possible to even have a "feel" of the movie. I thought that maybe Lucas is trying to make a demo reel for a production company but then it is all over the place.

The DVDs extras were OK. The documentary on American Zoetrope is about the directors licking each others' asses. They claim that they tried very much not to fit the Hollywood mould and they have succeeded in becoming the next generation of Hollywood mould. They say "this film is not about the future but from the future". That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard in a "making of the movie" video. A bacterium is more philosophical than any of the crew of this movie.

Up to now, this group of directors (Spielberg and Lucas specifically) still feed us with candy-sweet interpretation of life where everyone lives happily ever after.

Obviously, Lucas tried his best to make his own version of "2001: A Space Odyssey" but he is far from the genius that Kubrick had become. He can only admire but never imitate.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Gay Vote

Obama is the black vote. Clinton is the women's vote. McCain is the rednecks' vote. And American Idol's Danny Noriega is the gay vote.

Danny is flashy and flamboyant and unmistakenly part of the family. I love him for that. He may not be the best singer in this season's lineup but he sure knows how to entertain the audience.

Unfortunately, he is still a sensitive gay boy and curls up into a little ball whenever post-menopausal Simon Cowell lashes at him. The only way for him to win this competition is winning a rhetorical fight with Simon while wearing his skinny jeans.

So I hope American gay men vote for him because American Idol is the only democratic thing that anyone will ever have in this war-hungry country.

Go Danny (double snaps)!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Getting Ready for Oz 3

It is a tradition in the Philippines to give money to children in December. It was the first day of the year and I was only a teenager. One of my cousins (20 years older) dangled some money infront of my face. He said, "There is no gay in our family." I snatched the bills from his hand and retorted "There is one now!" I immediately ran away laughing.

It is not perfectly OK to be gay in Manila but one does not get hurt by strangers by being so. I have kissed my wheelchair-bound ex in the middle of Megamall (one of the biggest malls in the country). I have held hands with my dates. I have even done things in public I shouldn't. But no harm has come to me.

I do the same things here in Bangkok. The only difference is people do not stare here whereas in Manila, people look at gay people like how they look at Siamese twins walking on a tightrope while balancing 10-foot swords on the tip of their tongues. But in both cities, people do not approach me, verbally abuse me or beat me up.

It has always been natural for me to show my affection in public. I am very proud of being gay and I have always answered "yes" whenever I am asked "Are you gay?"

Problem is more and more people are warning me about Australia. They say that I cannot even hold hands with a man in public. They say that if I wink at the wrong person, I will end up in hospital. One of them even warned me about gay bashings happening around the Sydney Mardi Gras.

I have always imagined Australia as a country where diversity is celebrated. Some people say that it is the diversity that should be blamed--that Middle Eastern men have made being publicly gay dangerous. A close friend of mine even say that policemen patrol the bushes not to catch gay men having sex in public but to protect gay men from getting bashed. It is comforting to know that policemen are on our side but it is also scary to know that gay men are actually harmed in public.

In a few days, I will know if I can walk away from homophobic people in Australia while laughing.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Failing in the Big B

Panos gave me a free ticket to the Babylon Sauna and a Babylon cap late last year. I tried to give it away to a friend but he did not accept it. The ticket was to expire by the end of this month. I was horny and it is not easy for me to get a nice hookup so I went last night.

It was the middle of the week so many areas were closed. There were not that many people either. American Idol extended for one hour so I really thought that I would have the dredges of the night's catch. But there were actually some good-looking guys. Most are Thais. There were tons of Caucasians. There were some Mediterranean-looking men. Some are Arab-looking. And one is African-American.

Some Thai men fancied me. One of them is heavily muscular but he was not handsome. Another one is muscular and smooth but then he is girlier than Maria Clara (the strongest Filipino image of femininity). I was surprised that none of the Westerners fancied me, not even the old ones.

Is it my Annie-inspired hair? Is it my creatine-infused body? Is it my desperate (mis)demeanor?

I tried to become bold and touched the engorged package of the African-American (I have never had one). He swiftly glared at me and I saw my life flashed before my eyes (and it was boring). Then I thought about my ageing parents in Manila. After that, I thought about my plane tickets to Australia. I also thought about my future husband and the children and the grandchildren that we are going to have.

I cannot be found dead in a gay sauna!

When I came to my senses, I realized that I was in a cubicle with an American who refused to kiss me, suck me and be fucked by me. I thought "beggars can't be choosers" and settled for a hand-job.

The air was cool last night so I felt alone but glad that I am still alive. I walked away singing "Tomorrow".

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Getting Ready for Oz 2

The 27th of February draws near and I wish the days and nights would go faster. I have been waking up in the middle of the night thinking of AM. I received two long distance phone calls in the middle of the night but the line was choppy. I hope it was him.

I am more nervous meeting AM again than attending the Mardi Gras. I have prepared nothing for the parade and yet I have played scenarios of meeting him a hundred times. I have never pursued anyone this much before.

But I should not expect anything but have fun with him. I cannot and should not make any decisions just because I only have 8 days with him. I cannot and should not force him to make any decisions just because I am spending so much money just to be with him. I will try my best just to enjoy the time I have with him and be open with whatever is going to happen.

I just want to at least hold his hand again.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Emma's Bliss (movie)

It is my first time to be in an outdoor cinema. The movie competed with the glare of lights and the nuisance brought by mosquitoes.

Fortunately, it is a great movie. The story starts like "Misery" of Stephen King but then many elements of the story line are things I have not seen before. The ending is a little bit predictable but it is an ending nobody wants to see. It is cruel yet sweet. I do not want to spoil it for you so I suggest that you watch it.

Jürgen Vogel is very sexy in his own way. And in one scene, you would see that he is also well-endowed. He portrays the very resigned Max quite painfully. Jördis Triebel is very funny and innocent as Emma. She is both strong and sensitive.

This can be a very nice date movie because your partner would end up crying in your arms and cherish you for the moment that she/he has you.

Beautiful Boxer (DVD)

There was no original DVD of this title in Thailand that has English subtitles so I had to get this one in Manila. Unfortunately, it is a barebones DVD and it is even on full screen with matching grains and compression artefacts.

Like many Thai movies, this one is overly melodramatic but the action scenes are executed artistically and beautifully. It is really hard not to admire Muay Thai. I am now more amazed by this martial art than ever.

The lead actor is just super sexy. I wish I had him as my sparring partner in my classes but then I do not think I would be able to fight him. Even with the make up on, he is still very masculine. Maybe, I really have a thing for lady boys.

Now getting back to my review, Asanee Suwan gives a sympathetic and realistic performance of a kathoey. Though he cannot hide his bulging body parts (here I go again), he still conveys the gentleness and warmth of a woman.

I am not sure about the significance of this movie in Thai culture but I am sure many gay men would love to have this in his collection.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Platoon (DVD)

Sometimes, I ask people troubling questions. What is your drug of choice? Why did you bareback with that guy? Can you snort your coke infront of me? What happened to you in Vietnam during the war?

I do not ask these questions to use those information against them or to judge them. I ask those questions because I simply want to know something. I want to be able to "experience in my mind" how it is to be the person I am talking with.

I am still very curious about that US-led war in Vietnam. I can go there easily if I want to.

This movie has its flaws but I think it served very well the people who watched it during its theatrical release. It is hard not to compare it with "Full Metal Jacket but then the latter feels more intimate, more philosophical, more poetic and thus more memorable. But "Platoon" provides a not so comfortable window and yet realistic faces of the war.

Charlie does not stand out but the supporting actors did. Willem Dafoe is as sinister-looking as Tom Berenger but they are good in portraying the war "within themselves".

The Philippines which provided the backdrop of this movie is just stunningly beautiful. The production design (though low-budgeted) is impressive.

You have to watch the movie again and switch on the commentaries of Oliver Stone and his technical supervisor Captain Dale Dye. Unfortunately, Oliver Stone treats his audience as a shrink and recounts his memories of the battle field than the memories of shooting the movie. Dye's commentary is actually richer with details of how the movie was made and how he trained the main cast members to become theatrically-believable soldiers.

"Platoon" is nice to have in my collection but I treasure "Full Metal Jacket" a lot more.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Missing Sweeney Todd

Yes, I will give it a miss because the theater operators admit that the gory scenes are blurred out. They usually do this for guns, syringes, machetes, dicks and any pointed things. I won't be surprised if Cyrano Bergerac will get the same treatment.

I need to wait for it to be released on DVD but then I have to buy it outside of Thailand. I love Tim Burton and Helena Bonham-Carter.

I hate censorship!