Random bitchery

An idle mind is contemptible; it spontaneously regenerates rubbish. This is my paraphrased version of the actual statement of my professor in college who was coaxing me to be active in the activities of his organization connected with the Opus Dei.

His statement was less interestingly said, colorless, dull and more inclined to be euphemistic, of course, as I could not imagine him saying it in such utter directness and crispness. Thankfully, I forgot how he said it as my mind automatically forgets how pathetic thoughts are badly said as soon as I hear them.

Why do people resort to desecrating language and distorting it by saying something that sounds good in lieu of a word that perfectly describes a fact they judge too difficult to swallow or will make them sound less urbane if they use? So they’ll feel good about themselves, elevating them from the rest of the vulgar public? Political correctness is one of the worst inventions of modern society.

I could just imagine how a cripple winces when he is being referred to as ‘differently able’, the poor as ‘on the economic fringes’, the ugly as ‘asymmetrical’, or the stupid as ‘somebody whose EQ is more developed than his IQ’.

I beg to be spared.

I wonder why most young politicians who target the youth vote look odd (I mean weird) on their campaign posters. Some look as if they’ve just come out of a night club looking drunk and drugged. The youngest aspirant for a seat in the city council from Raul Gonzales’s slate is sporting on his posters a raised shirt collar complete with blings huge enough to pass as bike chains topped with heavy blush-on. Now that’s virile, redefined.

I watched on the news that most local governments are setting aside millions of pesos for cloud seeding. I remember however from my grade three science class that this process is only possible if clouds, specifically cumulonimbus, exist. But these gray cottony clouds are nowhere to be found these days. So here a very elementary fact: cloud seeding is not viable if not impossible. Our farmers in the countryside will not appreciate those silver iodide compounds falling from the sky one sunny morning.

We have an international research institute in the country whose sole purpose is to develop hardy strains of rice, and for sure they have something in one of their petri dishes a variety that can stand drought.

How come the government has not anticipated the coming of El Nino and asked farmers to try varieties of rice that do not need a lot of water? Instead those high and mighty occupying posts of authority suggested something as farcical as inducing rain. Like how the Catholic Church calls for the faithful to recite a certain kind of prayer to ask heavens for rain.

This country never ceases to interest me. It’s the most magically real place on the face of the planet where events once thought could only occur in Borges’s, Cortazar’s, or Garcia Marquez’s opuses happen daily, almost unnoticed, more real than real.

Portrait of the author

I’ve always wanted to have a charcoal portrait of me which shall be placed on top of the glass cover of my coffin. I think it is dignified but not bromidic. My recollection of a dead person’s portrait is always that of studio shot of him in his graduation toga. Proper but commonplace.

Unable to go out because of the unbearably blistering temperature outside, I spent the entire afternoon digging old pictures in my laptop and experimenting with them using some software I hardly use or didn’t know I have. Below is originally a nude photo of me. But since it is not going to be a good idea posting it as is here, and it is obvious nobody is going to be interested seeing something a porn site can better provide, I thought this one is tame enough for the general readership of this blog.

This is my attempt to have the charcoal-ish effect worthy of being seen on top of my coffin someday.

Monochromatic plants

The first thing I did when I woke up today was to compose a very long text message. Then I went out to take pictures of these bored-looking plants

Burnt tongue and postmodernism

My back was on them or that I was outside their circle or I was a disconnected part of their small universe. They were having a heated debate on that fine night inside that cliche of a coffee shop across Iloilo’s oldest university. And the topic, something I didn’t expect people in that not-very-intelligent-in-a dingy-kind-way coffee shop would talk about, was postmodernism.

Hearing them talk about postmodernism was like listening to a highly nasal voice of a DJ of a Parisian FM station or the hard accent of a Potsdam radio announcer. (I am starting to cultivate this liking for listening to FM stations around Europe.) I didn’t understand a word but I love the cadence and the passion. I wondered if the four understood each other, but I thought comprehension wasn’t the object of their conversation, as postmodernism isn’t meant to be understood. I suspect they only enjoyed the exercise of hearing themselves speak and seeing me (this I was not quite sure of) listening intently to their highly intellectual talk while my back was on them.

Everything and anything nowadays can be postmodern. A badly written essay of my student can be described as a violent reaction to the established conventions of good writing, therefore, in a way, postmodernistic in its approach. A horrible looking and equally horrible tasting cooked meal in the university canteen, for lack of a better adjective to describe the brown stew, can be referred to as a postmodern culinary experiment. And an inability to express oneself in correct and clear English can be supplemented with the use of  carelessly employed technical verbal fireworks, and voila, one is already a postmodern thinker (or referrer of verbalized postmodern schemata).

I tried to drink my pasteurized milk in one straight gulp, hurrying to leave the place before I could get constipated from hearing the infinite nonsense they were throwing at each other when I heard one of them said that Christ was the first postmodernist. I burnt the inside of my mouth and almost choked in that milk heated to almost 500 degrees centigrade inside a 20 atm pressure cooker. I didn’t hear his defense for his declaration that bordered on blasphemy because my attention was on the pleasurable sensation of  having a scalded tongue and palate. I wonder if enjoying pain is also of a postmodern nature.

I stood up in a postmodern way, gathered the stack of papers I was editing that contains researches on postmodernism, gave the four people occupying the other table a piercing postmodern outraged stare and left the place in a postmodern fashion, that is, using the door of course, but pulling it toward me instead of pushing it out even though the instruction on the handle coldly screamed the sign ‘PUSH’.

The politics of comedy bars: how to avoid making yourself the object of comic ridicule

We attended a not-so-well-attended reunion of Broadcast Communication graduates of the University of the Philippines Visayas. The program was fun. The crowd, because it was not very big, was convivial. It has just the right atmosphere for coming home. After the party, some of my college classmates, (there were seven of us who were present) suggested to go to Smallville along Diversion Road to continue partying. Some, tired of traveling to and of the big and raucous character of the crowd in that venue, invited for coffee at La Terraza, but it was too early to settle for something as light and dull as that coffee shop. Eventually we all settled to go to a comedy bar called Backroom located on the second floor of that coffee shop.

Backroom is one of the very few comedy bars in Iloilo City. The other one, Reasons Bar, at Robinson’s Place is more of a KTV bar than a comedy bar. Other, which I have not been to, are in the seedier parts of the city. They present shows that are somewhat more geared toward satisfying the more carnal sensory needs, the comedy skits relegated on the sideways. These cannot really be called comedy bars because they’re more burlesque than comic.

I’ve been to Backroom not quite a few times before. And if you’ve seen one of their shows, you’ll already get to have a feel of their kind of comedy. The hosts make the audience laugh mostly by personally shaming and berating themselves and the audience. On the walls are signs saying “Bawal ang pikon” precisely because the show is not for those people with sensitive egos, whose idea of self is dependent on what others say about them regardless of what the intent, context, and the manner people around them say it.

If you enjoy seeing people being the subject of sarcasm, direct onslaught or cruel jokes, even slapstick all for the sake of low comedy, and if you take undue pleasure in seeing a member of the audience recoil in his seat because of the unforgivable remark about the size of his nose, the kinkiness of his top, or the funny way he wears his outfit; but interestingly you do not want to be this person, then either a comedy bar is not for you.

Or you may devise ways so that you’ll be less conspicuous, less easily noticed by the merciless comedians on stage, allowing you to laugh your heart out clandestinely in your seat at the expense of a less fortunate person in the audience seated right in front of the platform.

The Hows:

  • Do not wear white or light colors as these reflect UV bulbs used in most of these dark bars. Wearing these shades, you’ll look like a scorpion under the specialized light used by an entomologist. You call their attention, and it’s something you would want to avoid, wouldn’t you?
  • Stay in the dark corners/crevices of the bar, if possible make a reservation for a table in the far most corner. Make sure that you’re very far so that those mics that still use cord won’t reach you in the event the hosts decide to do something drastic as to involve audience participation.
  • Order as much alcohol as you can. It is an unspoken rule that those who buy the most drinks are the least likely to be made fun of (maybe…) And the alcohol once it starts to kick in will dull your senses making the most debasing of remarks hurled at you unaffecting.
  • Camouflage yourself by appearing as ‘one of the crowd’. If you itch to watch a show but your friends at last the minute abandon you for something urgent or emergency, make friends around. Share a table with a group of at least ten. Don’t worry about being out-of-place. It is of a lesser concern than leaving the place with your dignity, soul, and remaining self-respect all over the place.
  • Do not stand to pee or raise your hand to order something or get the bill while the hosts are delivering their lines. Doing so is an act of surrender, an act of delivering yourself as sacrifice to appease the gods thirsty for a good, empty laugh.
  • And finally, just enjoy the show. Who knows the hosts will notice your great smile and compliment you for that perfect set of teeth. They sometimes, although very rarely, give compliments especially on smiles like that of a mongoloid (no intentional racial slur).

I sang two songs, and I heard myself sang them really badly.

Still I went home whole; my dignity, self-respect, and soul all intact.

My neighbor’s hamsters

I woke up one Saturday morning feeling hot and sick because the previous night was warm and humid. I decided to walk around the small yard beside my sister’s landlady’s house to breathe in some fresh air. I forgot I was only wearing my boxer’s when I saw these four little hamsters who came up to me and gave me those pleading look; they wanted to be fed.

So I scooped some pellets from a can beside their cage and showered them with those brown stuff. The four adorable hamsters munched them like wild beasts, as if the brown pellets were small rabbits ravaged by starving lions. I was in this trance-like fascination when my neighbor shouted at me, “Ay abaw toto, nga-a ga-uba-uba timo? Galisik na atubangan mo ho!” (Now this is something I wouldn’t translate.)

The bluntness of how Ilonggos use their language brought me back to my senses.

Ordinary revolutions

I probably read it in one of Anton Chekov or Maxim Gorky’s works. It went something like this: it’s easier for a man to live in a revolution than to face the routine of his daily existence.

On a weekend, I stay at my younger sister’s place; she is taking her undergrad at a university in the city. And during the whole time, we do nothing but eat, sleep, and for me, workout in the gym in a nearly automatic fashion. During these two days spent in advertent indolence, I am able to reflect on thoughts as scandalous and ingrate as this.

This confrontation with the ordinary, the clichéd, the redundant, proves just too difficult for my frail human soul to endure.

Could this be the same force that drives some members of the bourgeoisie to abandon their easy, repetitive, therefore boring, existence and take arms against the status quo? This lack of anything to do is more assaulting to the spirit than the thought of an impending revolution ahead.

But being so used to a secure life, although they thought they’ve already taken part in a revolution, they would keep on reiterating an ideology they accept as universally obvious. In Brodsky’s words, “What’s wrong with discourses about the obvious is that they corrupt consciousness with their easiness, with the quickness with which they provide one with moral comfort, with the sensation of being right. And so they wallow back in banality, this time, of their own ideology.”