Friday, September 24, 2010

Death Cab for Cutie, Zach Braff and Going the Distance

I was watching Death Cab for Cutie in Coney Island (one of the three times I saw them play and this was circa Transatlanticism) and I can't remember the crowd being so quiet. Maybe it was the underlying sadness of the songs but everyone watched as if mesmerized. The one time a huge cheer went up was when they played -- what else -- "Coney Island" from the Photo Album but that was an aberration. After their long set, I was walking around checking out the various booths and sites, there was the small line at a booth. I was curious so I checked it out and there was a bunch of people handing over free CDs and some giveaways. I got in line but by the time I was at the front, they had run out of CDs. I wasn't that disappointed after all, I was late. "Dude, I'm so sorry but that was the last CD we have," said the guy in a baseball-type of shirt. "But... I can give you this, this, and this." He handed over a bush hat, a magazine that had a Robert Smith on the cover, and a pin. The blue hat had "Garden State" sewn on it and it took me about a minute to realize that it was Zach Braff in front of me. I still have the mag and the pin but the hat a gave away to my ex-girlfriend. We shook hands and I must have sprouted out a thousand words in the next minute. He asked if I went to watch Death Cab at which I nodded like I was having an epileptic attack. We chatted for a few more minutes before he excused himself because he said he spotted this girl with huge tits and he wanted to see if he could hook up with her. 

Whenever I watch Garden State or listen to Death Cab's Transatlanticism I think of that chance encounter with Braff. 

Garden State remains one of my favorite movies not just for its quirkiness but also its cool soundtrack. Prior to that I thought the OSTs to The Crow (the first film), Singles, and Almost Famous were the best ever. Add Garden State to that (500) Days of Summer and Lost In Translation.

It seems that movies (like Juno) have decided to use that indie cred to bolster their hip factor. With some time to kill before my radio show, I went to watch Going the Distance. Romantic comedy? An older Drew Barrymore and Justin Long (who can't seem to let go of these frat boy roles. And how can you take Long's role of a guy who falls in love when he has a face like he'd rather be playing pranks? Well, it's okay; a new millennium version of About Last Night (yes, a young Demi Moore and Rob Lowe). In case you don't know, About Last Night was based on a book titled "Sexual Perversity in Chicago" so... I learned that from tirelessly watching the credits when the film came out (who didn't fall for Demi Moore in that movie?). And Going the Distance is just like that. Lots of open discussion about sex and more sex. I won't be getting the DVD of the movie but the soundtrack is something else. Albert Hammond Jr. (of the Strokes), Airborne Toxic Event (I love their debut album), London's indie version of the Gaslight Anthem -- the Boxer Rebellion, and the Band of Skulls? And the Cure performing "Just Like Heaven?" I gotta get me the soundtrack.

My fave Death Cab songs: We Laugh Indoors (from the Photo Album), Company Calls (from We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes), Cath (from Narrow Stairs), Crooked Teeth (from Plans), and Tiny Vessels (from Transatlanticism).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

When I'm in need of a good laugh

I deal with stress in a very unique way. I call up a friend of mine who has literally invented a new language. Seriously! The way he bends words or comes up with new ones -- it's amazing. I always always crack up whenever I talk to him. Sometimes I wonder if it's because of a speech defect but when I get on him to speak in the proper manner, he can speak them albeit with great difficulty. Perhaps that's why he has invented his own. It has actually caused him problems in getting work because no one can understand and they start laughing. But he's fine as he has his own business. Am I heartless about this? Bwahaha! 

I'm bringing that up because I needed a good laugh. But I wanted to spare my friend my guffaws for at least a day so I brought out a book I purchased quite a long time ago. You'll never know what you'll find when you go to used books stores. I picked the hardcover edition of Jay Leno's Headlines for $5 and it has always made me laugh no matter how many times I've read it.

Here's the video sampler:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Touched by the Techy Romantics

Touched by the Techy Romantics
by rick olivares

The title of Techy Romantics’ debut offering Touch is apt. Their music touches you on so many levels and that is always good. Techy Romantics is Mandalay with more vibe and sans the Kate Bush influence. Vocalist Camille Besinga is like an early Madonna with a more chill out bent and stronger vocal timbre. She etches her voice all over the grooves as the music takes your body for a ride. It’s like driving along the Nobre de Carvalho Bridge on a sultry summer night with all the lights ablaze across its length and you’re staring deep into the eyes of a beautiful woman beside of you.

Their brand of electronica is sensuous. The beat is hypnotic and flirts with you. Shakes you. Takes you. Everybody, get up and do your thing.

If you’re sitting in the corner and feeling anti-social, Besinga’s entrancing voice beckons you. Her delicate voice permeates whatever kind of shell you’re in then you know you’re infected already. You start tapping your feet. Then before you know it you’re swaying to the beat without a care. The awkward non-dancing bones in your body find their inner Christopher Walken (see his fantastic dancing in the Fat Boy Slim video for “Weapon of Choice”).

At times I wonder if the vocals should be stronger but no. This isn’t R&B. Everything But the Girl’s Tracey Thorn started out (circa “Love Not Money”) that way but with maturity (circa “The Language of Life” and “Worldwide”), the music became perfect pop confectionaries wrapped in song.

Tunesmiths Dondi Virrey and Ryan Villena never complicate matters. The music they make reminds me of Prefab Sprout – you listen to the music and every time you do, it’s like there’s a new layer to discover.

I can talk all night long about Touch but suffice to say that it’s like good wine – it’s like having a good drink that warms you all over then makes you feel alive.

Touch is an important release in the annals of original Filipino music. I’ve listened to many local artists get into electronica but how many can get you into the dance floor? Like Fragmented, that superb debut effort by contemporaries Up Dharma Down, Touch is an album that belongs not just in your iPod but in your heart, mind, and hips.


Get the album from Party Bear Records! Or if you can't find it drop me an email and I'll help you get the album.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cappuccino for five bucks. Brew for free.

This is the menu from the Nescafe vendo machine at the office. Cool (or hot) ain't it? And it's cheap too.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Playing hooky

Playing hooky
The author took two days off from the daily grind to recharge. Instead, it turned out to be a time for reflection and rediscovering the things he used to enjoy.
By Rick Olivares

Aren’t we too old to be playing hooky?

Yes. Of course. One cannot be irresponsible at an older age. Not with the responsibilities that come along.

While talking to a high school classmate recently, he told me how many of our batchmates weren’t all that active considering we’re Jubilarians for this year’s homecoming. The simple truth is people aren’t lacking in their love and support for the school. The demands of life and work just get in the way.

That however, begets the argument that all work and no play makes for a stressful and dull life. A balance must be struck.

I have been working for what seems like forever now. I have always worked in highly stressful environments such as in advertising and public relations so I always made it a point to avail of my leaves.

The other week, I took two days off from work. I made sure that I didn’t leave anything hanging so I couldn’t be bothered at all.

I honestly didn’t plan anything and decided to let the moment dictate what was going to happen. And I remembered an incident from way way back that helped set the tone of my playing “hooky.”

Does anyone remember what they did with their first ever paycheck?

If I did get a check I thought about having it framed. Except that it was put into my account. But as I got off from work, I went to Robinson’s Galleria to buy some groceries for the house and treat myself to a banana split.

As I got off along EDSA as I took the bus to Ortigas, there was a woman carrying her infant child in her arms sitting at the edge of the flyover. The milk of that her baby was drinking didn’t look too good under the scorching sun. I passed her by and went inside the cool confines of the mall but somehow, the image of the mother and her child didn’t leave my mind. I went back out and pushed a hundred peso bill into her hand. “Please use this money wisely,” I whispered to her. This bystander saw me give her money and he blurted out that it was all a scam and the work of crime syndicates and something to that effect. By way of reply, I said that then it’s up to her to whether she will do the right thing or not because not everyone helps out. Besides, she needed the money more than I did.

I did buy my groceries and eat my banana split at the old A&W restaurant at the Robinson’s Galleria. And perhaps as a reward for my helping out, I saw Norman Black, then the coach of San Miguel Beer inside the restaurant, and I got his autograph (that I still have to this day).

As for the rest of my pay? I put kept some in the bank and used the rest for my daily expenses.

With the memory of that past incident clear in my mind, I set off mid-morning during my first day off to reprise that “Good Samaritan” episode of my life. There’s this homeless community that has made the underbelly of the Katipunan flyover their home and I frequently pass by the area since I live nearby. And it never fails to wrench my heart to see people with not much trying to sleep in a harsh and unforgiving area that is exposed to pollution and the elements. I had with me some breakfast and some fruits that I distributed to a few mothers and their children. As is oft the case with handing out foodstuffs, there is never enough and pretty soon, I drew a crowd. I quickly left since I didn’t have much.

But nothing like a feel good moment to start your day right. I used to do this on a daily basis when I was doing freelance work for ABS-CBN. I’d buy snacks for the kids that begged in the area near the MRT station.

Cut back to the Hooky Day 1. From there I went to the tiangge in Greenhills to buy me some shirts for my everyday use. I dad some Persian food for lunch then went off to Robinson’s Galleria to watch “The Expendables” after which I got a nice soothing massage at the spa. When I got home, I walked my dog around the neighborhood and helped my kids with their homework before sitting down to read a book. I have such a huge backlog of books to finish and this was the perfect time to engross myself into it. Before I knew it, it was late but I had turned the last page.

The following day, I did my daddy stuff and picked up my youngest son from school. On the way home, we played some air hockey at the nearby arcade and had some merienda outside.

Time was I enjoyed going out after work. Call me old, call it age, but I would rather go home now and hang out with my kids and watch television for a bit and relax a bit before hunkering down in front of my computer to work on articles or essays like this.

My wallet took a hit in those two days off but the time away brought to mind the old Mastercard commercial about this being a “priceless moment.” I was recharged for the work week and feeling better about myself.

When I told a friend of mine what I did, he hit on the idea about doing it again together. Maybe shoot some pool and go play hoops. Or even go trawling the curio shops of Recto and Quaipo in search of bargains.

Good idea. But I have to see how many leaves I still have left. 

A Star Wars collectible

Take a look at this movie poster. It is signed by the entire cast of Star Wars. As in everyone from the first to the third film (Episodes IV-VI).

What a collectible and I wonder what it is worth!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Wheatgrass tea and me

I discovered this the other day just by happenstance. I was buying pizza when a neighbor of mine tapped me on my shoulder. Turns out that she had a stall in Galleria where she sells Wheatgrass tea. It was her family that got the franchise for this and I can only imagine what they are paying given the advertising for it on television (not to mention their celebrity endorser).

But I have never been into celebrity endorsers. Nevertheless, before she arrived, I was looking at the products somewhat perplexed. I've been getting into healthier foods and drink recently and I wondered about it. Her arrival was fortuitous because I got to sample the tea. 

I thought it was great and costs much less than the Reliv stuff I've been getting so I bought a can of it. And I'll be making regular purchases of it from now on.

Go try it out. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hokki smokes! Japanese pizza.

I tried out Hokki Rice Pizza today at Robinson's Galleria. It's near the sports shops on the third level (close to where Kenny Rogers is located). It's like the pizza toppings are all on top of rice then cooked in an oven. They've got several flavors -- tuna, meaty, veggie, Hawaiian, and chicken. Prices vary from 95 to 89 bucks. The ice tea is pretty good too. They put this herb type of thing inside that adds a lot of flavor. Not a bad discovery if you ask me. Nice packaging as well! I also bought a can of Wheatgrass tea in the stall next to Hokki Rice Pizza. I only found out right then that it's owned by my next door neighbor. I purchased a can Php1,200 not because of my neighbor but I am really trying to be more health conscious. Will take a pic and post it as well.

I ordered the meaty and tuna pizzas. One to eat right there and one to take home.