19 March 2017

My Two Days With Eliza Orlins (Part I)

…and the days that led up to meeting her were nothing short of exhilarating.

For those who don’t know, Eliza Orlins was on Survivor: Vanuatu and Survivor: Micronesia—Fans vs Favorites. Survivor is my favorite TV show of all time. And before you roll your eyes at someone whose favorite TV show is a reality-competition program, I’d like to say, “Fuck you!” I read highbrow literature, just so you know, like, um, Colson Whitehead book covers.

Let’s go back to over four months ago when, in early November, my friend Roger tweeted for Eliza to include Cebu, Philippines in her travels. And just like that, she booked a flight to Cebu.

OK, that’s not what happened.

We should go back to over a year (or two years?) ago when I met Roger. There’s a semiweekly game of trivia here called Cebu Trivia Night. I’d already been with a team for more than two or three years then when Roger’s team joined. Roger and I became friendly when we learned of each other’s Survivor fandom.  When Survivor: Cambodia – Second Chance aired, we’d gotten somewhat closer in that we started planning on having a viewing party, especially for the finale. None of our plans came to fruition until, of course, Eliza’s visit, which we will get to a little later.

My
Survivor friendship with Roger eventually evolved to include discussing what past players thought about a current season. One past player’s social media account stood out: Eliza Orlins’s twitter.

She already stood out to us as a player in both of her seasons. As an outspoken, 21-year-old law student on Vanuatu, she didn’t hide how Chris’s betrayal hurt her. If memory serves me right, I think hers was the rawest knee-jerk reaction to a betrayal at tribal council during the early years of Survivor. Despite that, she looked at it from a gameplay perspective and voted for Chris to win (after, of course, telling him that he was a deceptive, lying bitch). She also took the time to compliment the runner-up, Twila, on her gameplay (after, of course, telling Twila that she was a deceptive, lying bitch), even if Twila was not especially nice to her. She pretty much earned her spot to go on Micronesia, the first edition of Fans vs Favorites. Here she'd stand out once again with her "It's a fucking stick" moment that's been voted for by many as one of their favorite moments in Survivor history.

On Twitter, though, she’s even more of a riot. For most of the time, she’d tweet what we were already thinking (#fyas is just one example). After an episode aired, Roger and I would go into Eliza’s account to find out what she had to say. She’s especially endearing when she goes on Rob Cesternino and Stephen Fishbach’s Live Know-It-All shows (the birthplace of #fyas). J, my friend who would later interview Eliza here for a local daily, thought at first that we were only excited because of the idea that we were meeting a Survivor alum. No, we got excited because of Eliza herself. We were fans of hers. I don’t think some other Survivor player visiting, say someone like [REDACTED], would have incited as much enthusiasm.

Over the course of our stalking Survivor players on Twitter (in Roger’s case, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook because he’s a much crazier fan than I am), we learned that the Philippines was one of Eliza’s destinations in her multinational travels. Hence Roger’s initial tweet to Eliza. We’d since repeatedly pestered Eliza into coming to Cebu. When we learned Eliza played trivia in New Zealand, we offered to form a team with her at Cebu Trivia Night. Since the premiere of Survivor: Game Changers was drawing near, we promised to organize a viewing party for her. And just like that, she booked a flight to Cebu.

OK, that is still not what happened.

T minus one week

On February 28th, I woke up to Roger’s urgent PMs on FB Messenger and a tweet from Eliza that read:
WTF!

At this time, Eliza was in Boracay (voted for by Condé Nast Traveler magazine readers in 2016 as the No. 1 Best Island Destination in the World outside the U.S.). Her next leg was going to be Palawan (No. 2 Best Island Destination in the World). But on this day, February 28th, she announced that she was joining trivia in Cebu (5th on the Condé Nast list)!

Eliza, are you a Condé Nast Traveler magazine reader?

I don’t know what Roger did, or how his messages with Eliza went, but somehow Eliza knew Trivia on March 8th was at Alejandro’s. And she was going to be there. Flight had already been booked.

This meant Roger and I only had one week to round up all the other Survivor fans in Cebu. Aside from Roger, I only knew of one other true superfan who’s physically based here (Hi, Josh!). I eventually found four from Reddit and Twitter, both of whom met up with us in person in this particular week. These two, Louis and Juvy, are officially in my alliance if we were to play Survivor. Roger did his own thing, and I think he found ten more. From only 14 members in our own Survivor Superfans –Cebu group on Facebook, we got the number up to over 20. As of this writing, 41.

T minus 60 minutes

March 7th. It was the day that Eliza was to get here in Cebu.

We’d offered to pick Eliza up at the airport. I was a bit nervous about that because my car is this old, uninspired 2002 Honda Civic. Even if I had my car washed the day before, it was too late for me to realize that the seat covers hadn’t been replaced and there were soda stains in some places (only soda stains, I promise). Totally embarrassing. To make matters somewhat worse, we got pulled over on our way to the airport. I was on the wrong lane and no amount of flirting with the traffic enforcer got me out of getting a ticket.

None of those mattered, though. When we got to the airport, Eliza’s plane had already landed. She was at baggage claim, waiting for the carousel to bring her her luggage. Roger and I were nervous, chomping at the bit. All worldly concerns disappeared. We talked about the months that led up to this, cackling, heavy with anticipation, and then...

T minus 0

There she was, beaming, waving at Roger. She’d only known of Roger’s existence at this point. She didn’t realize I was that @ryeisdead Twitter user who’d also pestered her online. We stepped out of the car, exchanged hugs, and then helped her with her luggage. It was surreal. A Survivor player of whom we were fans was getting into my car. How often does that happen?

She didn’t seem to mind what my car was or what condition it was in. I would think that compared to her experiences on Survivor, my car would be the frickin’ Waldorf Astoria. As soon as she got settled in the backseat, I asked for a selfie with her, which was the one thing I wanted immediately. Sweetheart that she is, she obliged.


(L-R) Angelica, Eliza, and Peggy. OK, no. That’s Roger, Eliza, and yours truly.
Off with the preambles, how her flight was, how excited we were, unable to contain our fanboying. She got a bit concerned while messaging with Roger earlier because none of us had heard of her airline. AirSwift? WTH is that? It wasn’t popular among the locals so she got worried. I shared that we got pulled over on our way to the airport. She asked if I was speeding. And, if I remember correctly, as soon as she asked that, I was on the wrong lane again, counterflowing, unsure of where to exit. That pretty much answered her question. I wasn’t speeding. I was just a bad, confused driver.

We then learned why Eliza decided to come to Cebu. While our tweets did help her make a final decision, the main reason was that she was meeting up with her dad. Her dad was in Hong Kong.  Their plan was to meet up in the Philippines before heading together to Beijing. One of the few places that has a direct flight from Hong Kong to the Philippines is Cebu. And so she chose Cebu.

On our way to Eliza’s hotel, we got to talk more about what comprised her fans here—all LGBT (we didn’t realize yet at this time that we were wrong about that, haha). We already knew that Eliza was an LGBT ally, but it was only then that we learned why. She wasn’t raised to think LGBT was any different. She has a gay uncle, who has a partner, both of whom she adores. It was only when Eliza started school, got exposed to other people’s worldview, that she understood it wasn’t that way for others.

I thought it was a beautiful moment, in my car with her and Roger, when she talked about how the LGBT community meant to her, with my musicals playlist playing in the background. She stopped to ask if I was playing Miss Saigon. I turned the volume up and she realized it was Les Misérables. She would then sing along to Rent, and then Hamilton. I would get totally blown away later to learn she’s seen Hamilton twice, first for only $10 for winning the lottery and next for a little less than $200 when she watched it with her family. These days, you’d have to buy a ticket for probably $8bn to get to watch the show 20 years from now. An interesting tidbit when she won the Hamilton lottery: the first name drawn was Alexander, the next was hers, Eliza. Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler!

This first meeting with Eliza in person didn’t seem like the first time at all. She seemed exactly like how she was on Survivor and on social media. She’s expressive and authentic and easy to get along with. On my drive back home after dropping Eliza off at her hotel and parting ways with Roger, I felt that it was just the beginning of more wonderful things to come.

Pre-Dinner Rant

I was mistaken. It wasn’t all wonderful. I only had a few hours before I had to pick Eliza up at her hotel for dinner. On my way out, my parents were watching the news. It was the third reading of the Death Penalty Bill. Apparently it was the final reading and the House of Representatives just approved it.

[WARNING: THIS GETS SELF-RIGHTEOUS AND THIS MIGHT ANNOY YOU. IF YOU DON’T WANT TO READ ANYTHING POLITICAL, SKIP THIS AND MOVE ON TO THE NEXT PART]

When I picked Eliza up, I couldn’t help but rant. Since she’s a public defender, I assumed she was against capital punishment as well. Thank goodness, I was right. Earlier, she’d asked me and Roger how our country was doing. We advised her it was not something we talked about in a social setting, just because we didn’t know what anyone’s stance could be, and some could get really passionate about it, just as I will be in a few. I don’t even know what Roger’s stance is, and I’d always thought it best to keep our discussions sans politics.

So when I got Eliza alone in my car, I had to let it out. It didn’t quite get to a “Call the Whambulance” extent, I don’t think. Although, deep inside, I just wanted to go 25th Hour apeshit. I don't really have to go through all the reasons why the death penalty is wrong; those reasons have been stressed again and again by those who are against it but they only fall on deaf ears. It just enrages me that in a predominantly Christian country, murder is being used as a solution to everything. I’m an atheist (so is Eliza, as I would learn the next day) and I don’t need the ten commandments to tell me that murder is wrong. Seriously, if you’re a devout Christian—complete with Facebook posts like “Received some good news today! God is good!” because apparently you’re so special that God had to take some time out of Her busy schedule to hashtag-fucking-bless you—but you’re clamoring for the murder of your fellow human beings, all I can see when I look into your eyes is the soul you believe you have burning in the hell you believe exists.  What makes this whole thing an even bigger, more painful joke is that plunder, treason, rape, and murder were taken out of the bill as crimes punishable by death. I could be mistaken, though, so someone has to correct me. I’m not really that attuned to everything politics; I’m not a boxer-turned-senator-turned-prophet.

OK, sorry about that. I just got extremely riled up there. I practically just rustled my own feathers. If you’re a proud Christian who is for capital punishment, sorry if I just made your face turn sour. But in my defense, that is probably already your sex face anyway.

As we drove closer to the restaurant where we were to have dinner, “Wait for It” from Hamilton played. Eliza turned the volume up and we both sang along. And just like that, I was calm, and the wonderful things could continue.

Dinner at Circa 1900

Drei, Roger’s friend, offered to host dinner for us in the restaurant that he manages, Circa 1900. This happens to be one of my favorite restaurants. Circa 1900 comprises two ancestral homes that date back to, well, circa 1900. These homes have been converted into culinary joints that offer, in my opinion, complex Asian-fusion dishes. Think Fermat's theorems dipped in soy sauce.

Looking at the menu, Eliza said everything seemed so good. Roger and I didn’t know what to order as well so we let Drei decide for us.

Crunchy whitebait with Asian aioli and coconut vinegar. An elevated take on bolinao, a local delicacy.

I don’t remember what this is. I’m guessing some trail mix of sorts that we need to keep away from Julie McGee.

Kind of like an Asianized clam chowder that didn’t have a chance with me. I inhaled it like the sticks of cigarette Shane Powers missed for so long while on Survivor: Panama.
Aside from the appetizers posted above, we also had crunchy ravioli and a salad. All Eliza had been eating since she got to the Philippines were mostly meat and she’d missed having vegetables.

We talked about how excited we were about the upcoming premiere of Game Changers, some spoilers I found online whose truthiness or falsehood I didn’t want confirmed, and Eliza’s relationship with other Survivor players she was still in touch or close with.

I believe this is Chicken Bringhe, Turmeric, & Vegetable Paella Cake with coconut and raisins, topped with saute chicken and sprouts. But I could be wrong.

Crunchy slow-roast pork belly with apple and fennel compote and a side of mashed potatoes. For me, an elevated version of lechon kawali and I could eat this every day if I had the money.

Hands down my favorite dish of the night. Squid and Prawn Risotto. It’s so tasty. Imagine tasting something so good that you feel empowered, challenging everyone to just draw rocks, “let’s draw rocks, unless everyone’s voting my way, I’m drawing rocks.”
Eliza shared that during the AOL days, her profile read “Future Survivor 9 contestant.” She’d calculated which season she could go on when she turned 21. And betchabygollywow it came true.

She also shared something related to a past relationship and another Survivor player that came before her and it was hilarious.

There was also this thing about one of her seasons, but aw, you had to be there. (Sorry, at this point, I’m just rubbing it to the faces of everyone who’s never had dinner with Eliza.)

We also had ostrich meat, which was Eliza’s first time tasting. I fully regret at this point that I’m just not someone who takes photos. Earlier, when we dropped Eliza off at her hotel, Roger took the time to have a selfie of just the two of them. I didn’t care then that I didn’t have a photo of just me and Eliza. Fast forward to this night, and I continued to miss taking photos of things I should have, like that single ostrich dish. Because that was a whole ostrich!

I’m just kidding. Just a fillet. But now you’ll never know for sure because I do not have proof.

White chocolate crème brûlée bread pudding. Tasting this is what it must feel like when someone you know you could beat takes you to the finals over someone they could beat. Yes, this tastes like a winner.

Maja Blanca and rosquillos cheesecake. So rich and creamy, reminiscent of Joe Anglim’s abs.
We prepped Eliza on what to expect at Cebu Trivia Night. We described how the game would go, which was hell different from the trivia games she’d joined before.

It was already past ten in the evening. We started dinner a little past seven. This meant we had Eliza all to ourselves for three wonderful hours. Drei gave us a quick tour of the two casas that made up Circa 1900.

Grabbed from Drei’s phone, outside Casa Uno of Circa 1900.
It was one of the best dinners I’ve had in recent years. It wasn’t just that it was with Eliza, but because the food was so good I could have gone on for 38 more days without having another meal. (Thank you so much, Drei, for that dinner, for everything that you ordered for us. None was a miss. As Eliza would post later on her Instagram, “everything was perfection.”)

As we drove out of the Circa 1900 lot, we tried to continue singing along to "Wait for It." But all we could hear was the music without the vocals. "This is weird," Eliza said. The problem was with the aux cable that I bought for Ph40 (less than $1). You had to adjust it a certain way so all the audio comes out. Eliza fixed it for me but by the time it was working, another song was already playing. I think it was a song from the TV show Smash, which Eliza also loved. She is officially the fourth person I know that watched Smash. Then she told me about this heartbreaking musical she saw called Falsettos. Andrew Rannells and Christian Borle were in it. I made the mental note to go to New York when I win the lottery. The real lottery, from PCSO.

As we made the last turn back to her hotel, Eliza and I rapped to “Satisfied." I thought it was an apt ending to a satisfying night.

TO BE CONTINUED...

11 January 2015

30 Lazy Movie Reviews

What did you expect? It's been eighteen months (eighteen months! EIGHTEEN MONTHS!) since Lead Character's last post. So to somehow make up for his long period of being MIA, he is going to review random movies he's seen that he never got around to reviewing--which were not necessarily released in the last eighteen months, and not necessarily the only movies he's seen in that particular period--and review them in a lazy, uninspired way.


Confessions (2010, Japan)
 

Surprisingly compelling and wonderfully satisfying. Mix juvenile delinquency with AIDS in one story and you're bound to see some explosions, both emotional and actual.


I Give My First Love To You (2009, Japan)


Imagine Nicholas Sparks eating sushi while writing another sappy novel. Still can't help the waterworks, though.


Movie 43 (2013, USA)


Critically panned by many but absolutely enjoyed by Lead Character. Lead Character laughed so hard his Adam's apple split, forming a second pair of testicles. Favorite moment: Chris Pratt getting hit by a car, blowing the shit out of him.


21 and Over (2013, USA)

Light comedies are supposed to make you forget about all of your problems for an hour and a half, but this one just adds to them. Benign. A waste of time.


I Give It a Year (2013, UK)

A British romcom with British Rafe Spall, Australians Rose Byrne (a goddess!) and Simon Baker, and American Anna Faris (a demigoddess). Quite effectively adorable and funny if you're in the mood, otherwise this might make you retch. Important: Lead Character was in the mood when he saw this.


Mental (2012, Australia)


Film director PJ Hogan (Muriel's Wedding, My Best Friend's Wedding) reunites with Toni Collette (Muriel's Wedding, but not My Best Friend's Wedding) in another music-filled comedy that makes you realize there are a number of things that you cannot joke about, but mental illness is not one of them.


Admission (2013, USA)


Tina Fey and Paul Rudd are likable enough to make this comedy compelling, but it fails to serve its purpose as a comedy, as it has rendered Lead Character depressed after.


Exam (2009, UK)

In search of a movie that takes place mostly in one tiny location, or as Lead Character would call it, a "claustrophobic" movie--like Cube (1997), Treed Murray (2001), Phone Booth (2002), Buried (2010)--Lead Character found Exam, a psychological thriller that indeed has the same riveting buildup as the other "claustrophobic" movies he's seen.


Fermat's Room (2007, Spain)


Another "claustrophobic" movie whose premise grabbed Lead Character by the collar immediately. Four mathematicians are trapped in a room whose walls close in whenever they fail to solve a puzzle within a given amount of time. Why are they there? Who put them there? How are they connected to each other? Frak, yeah!


Rabbit Hole (2010, USA)


Heart-rending performances from Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart. Well, mostly Nicole Kidman, as the grieving, the pain, the torture, the unimaginable feeling of loss is more felt from her, which isn't saying Aaron Eckhart is insufficient; just different.


Spring Breakers (2012, USA)



Well-received by critics, but ill-received by Lead Character. How is it possible for Selena Gomez to be considered prettier than Vanessa Hudgens?


Syrup (2013, USA)


Ill-received by critics, but well-received by Lead Character. Amber Heard is sickeningly gorgeous.


The Wolf of Wall Street (2013, USA)

Lead Character's pick to win the Best Picture Oscar, and Leo was pretty much everyone's pick to win Best Actor except for the Oscar voters. But of course, 12 Years a Slave had to win (fucking white guilt). And Matthew McConaughey had to win Best Actor (fucking hetero guilt).


American Hustle (2013, USA)

Amy Adams is a goddess.


Frozen (2013, USA)


Really? You want to know what Lead Character thinks of Frozen? Isn't it enough that "Let It Go" exacerbated Lead Character's hernia?


Prisoners (2013, USA)


Lead Character's 2nd favorite Paul Dano movie, after There Will Be Blood (2007) and before Little Miss Sunshine (2006). 


Side Effects (2013, USA)


This is Soderbergh on a good day. Rooney Mara's performance here is more of a revelation than her performance in Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011). She's officially become Lead Character's 2nd favorite Mara, after Kate Mara and before Mara Clara.


The English Teacher (2013, USA)


Pretty benign. Perhaps this is a good watch on a rainy day and you have plenty of food at home. Because Julianne Moore is a goddess and she can never do anything wrong. But never watch this if you're hungry and all you have in your fridge are condiments. Are condiments supposed to be refrigerated? I know mayo should be. But ketchup?


The To-Do List (2013, USA)


Has some memorable funny moments, and Aubrey Plaza is always fun to watch, but all in all, you're just thankful this is low-budget, because....wait, I know you do not have to refrigerate soy sauce, but what if you've already mixed soy sauce with slices of tomatoes and onions? Refrigrate that? Or will its smell only dominate your entire fridge? Anyone?


The Canyons (2013, USA)


So sad to see novelist Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho, The Rules of Attraction) write a movie that is this bad. And that breaking of the fourth wall in the last frame of the movie, that doesn't even convey anything artistic. The only thing that would have saved this wreck is an unsimulated sex scene between James Deen and Lindsay Lohan. Let's see if that broad can handle his huge dick.


The Rules of Attraction (2002, USA)


Quite a satisfying watch. Perhaps it's up there now in Lead Character's favorite teen movies of all time. See, Bret Easton Ellis, you have got to leave the screenwriting to actual screenwriters.


The Call (2013, USA)


An effectively engaging thriller despite the absurdity. This might work better as a TV series, though.


4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007, Romania)


A chilling take on the topic of abortion. Well, abortion may very well be always a chilling topic, but this one just sucks it out of your uterus, whether or not you have one. Five stars out of four.


About Time (2013, UK)

One of the few movies that made Lead Character bawl his eyes out. Although the crying may be attributed to him getting locked out of his friend's apartment for over eight hours with no money for lunch.

Sana Dati (2013, Philippines, English title: If Only)


Lead Character had high expectations from this movie, and they were successfully met. Weighty. Emotionally charged. A gem.


Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan (2013, Philippines, English title: Norte, the End of History)


Powerful performances from the cast, especially Angeli Bayani, who could gut you effortlessly even without delivering a line. Lav Diaz just needs to stop masturbating, though, and learn to cut overindulgent scenes, scenes that never really help push the story along any better than if they are shorter. Here's what will make you a genius: tell a shorter version of a story and manage to give it as much impact as its longer version.


Gone Girl (2014, USA)

The movie has a lot more interesting bits than the book. And Rosamund Pike looks like she smells good, while Lead Character is pretty sure Ben Affleck doesn't.


The Skeleton Twins (2014, USA)


Bill Hader shines and Kristen Wiig sparkles. It will make you laugh hard and then sit quietly still, heavy-hearted.


Obvious Child (2014, USA)


Hands down the most romantic movie about abortion ever made.


Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho (2014, Brazil, English title: The Way He Looks)


The Portuguese title, Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho, literally means "Today I Want to Go Back Alone." But perhaps "The Way He Looks" sounds more poetic in English than it does in Portuguese. This is beautifully made with no pretensions, perhaps somewhat Wattpad-esque in its execution of a romantic story, but definitely masterful enough to resound like a genuine heartbeat for years. This is the type of movie that Lead Character wants to force everyone to watch.

25 June 2013

Dropping Off McSpicy Kids at the Pool

Season 3 Episode 1

When you're traveling, do not eat what is readily available in your home country. Try out local delicacies, be adventurous. This kind of thinking is brought back in Lead Character's mind upon finding out that McDonald's Philippines is now offering the McSpicy chicken burger.



Right after watching Man of Steel, Lead Character and friends go straight to the nearest McDonald's to order, to taste once again, the aggressive kick that McSpicy chicken burger offers. After the first bite, Lead Character bows his head low and bursts into tears. Not quite as spicy as when he first tasted it....

FLASHBACK:

SUPERS: Singapore, May 2011

Lead Character and friends are exhausted after partying in Clarke Quay. They drop by McDonald's to grab something to eat. Lead Character doesn't order anything, still quite full and already sleepy. In a few hours, they'll be on a bus to Malaysia.

LEAD CHARACTER (lips pointing to his friend's food): NonFacebooker, that doesn't look like anything they offer in the Philippines.

NONFACEBOOKER: OMG, it's really good. It's spicy chicken burger, nom nom aahhh nom.

LEAD CHARACTER: May I have a bite?

NONFACEBOOKER: Sure, sure.

LEAD CHARACTER: Nom nom aaahh it's really spicy aaahh.

LEAD CHARACTER makes a mental note to order a whole burger for himself next time.

SUPERS: Two days later....

Finally, Lead Character gets a whole burger for himself. It's nighttime. The next day they're going to Universal Studios.

LEAD CHARACTER: Nom nom aahh wow it's really spicy.

Beads of sweat the size of ganglion cysts are dripping from Lead Character's forehead. It looks like he's in the shower crying after getting raped by women.

LEAD CHARACTER: Nom nom OMG this is too much I love it nom nom.

SUPERS: The next day....

There's an unsettling sound coming from Lead Character's belly, like something out of a disaster movie, something that portends mass destruction, like some evil monster about to destroy an entire city. Lead Character runs to the toilet.

LEAD CHARACTER: Mon mon mon (Get it? The opposite of 'nom nom nom.' Or perhaps that gives the impression Lead Character is throwing up? No, Lead Character is not throwing up.) Jesus H. Christ! What is happening?

It feels like Lead Character is shitting a mix of razorblades and barbed wire. And because there's a dozen of them and only one bathroom, Lead Character finishes quickly.

SUPERS: An hour later....

At the MRT station, Lead Character hears that portentous sound again coming from his belly. This time, it's not just auditory, it's sensational!

LEAD CHARACTER (to his friends): Guys, I'm really sorry, but I need to drop my kids off at the pool again.

Concerned with the tortured look on Lead Character's face, his friends tell him yes, they still have time, he can drop his kids off at the pool if it's really necessary. So off Lead Character goes to the public toilet.

There's only him, another guy, and a woman wearing a uniform, presumably the CLEANING LADY, 70s. Lead Character picks a stall. Normally, he waits for everyone to leave the public restroom before he drops his kids off. But this is not a normal time. So off his kids go, still feeling like razorblades and barbed wire, and this time, compounded by what feels like rock salt over an open wound. Lead Character is tempted to scream.

There's a knock on the stall door.

LEAD CHARACTER: There's someone here....

CLEANING LADY: (Something in Mandarin)

LEAD CHARACTER: Wait....

CLEANING LADY: (Something in angry Mandarin, and she's now pounding on the door)

LEAD CHARACTER: Wait... wait....

CLEANING LADY: (Livid Mandarin, more pounding on the door.)

Lead Character hurries. He wipes himself clean, or so he thinks, and steps out. Cleaning Lady is looking at him angrily. She's already had the main door locked. She unlocks it and shows Lead Character out. Lead Character gives her an apologetic stare with his head low.

Whatever Cleaning Lady was after, Lead Character will never know. Lead Character suspects she just wants to be alone while cleaning the facilities.

Lead Character's FRIENDS: So, you're all good?

LEAD CHARACTER (shaking his head): I can't promise.

When they reach Universal Studios, Lead Character feels the monster in his belly again.

LEAD CHARACTER (pleading look): Guys... I'm really sorry.

One of Lead Character's friends, KIYLI MINOGUE, male, late 20s, laughs.

KIYLI MINOGUE: Hemorrhoids! You have hemorrhoids if it hurts that much!

Lead Character feels like crying. How can he possibly get on a roller coaster if he has hemorrhoids?

Thankfully, Lead Character doesn't have hemorrhoids. His third time dropping the kids off at the pool kills the monster off. Lead Character feels free, not as a bird, but as something who just dropped the final blast of spicy shit after hours of torment.

For Lead Character, it's the best day of his life. And with the weakened spiciness of McSpicy chicken burger in the Philippines, Lead Character is disappointed knowing he may never experience that day again. After everything he's been through, Lead Character realizes that the best thing on earth is not love, or money, or friendship, or family. The best thing on earth is the feeling of relief.

The look of relief on Lead Character's face.

23 June 2013

A Life of Croissants, Cheese, Cold Cuts, and Wine

...is la vie Parisienne at La Vie Parisienne, a cozy little container van-cum-bakery-slash-wineshop-slash-something-or-other along Gorordo Ave., Cebu City.

Lead Character is lazy, so he only took one photo during
one of their La Vie Parisienne get-togethers.
Here we feature NonFacebooker's sister Eyebrow.

Lead Character and his friends consider it the ultimate hangout that matches their age and economic status.

Instead of beer and the occasional whiskey (which, one might argue, actually matches their age as well), they have champagne and wine, both white and red.

Instead of the kropek, the sizzling sisig, or the chips that they used to have back in their, um, teens, they have brie cheese, cold cuts, croissants, and whatever else they fancy that doesn't necessarily complement the type of wine they're having.

And of course, everything they buy is congruent to the wads of cash that they have in their wallets. Every bottle they buy is carefully selected. They spend almost half an hour browsing through the shelves to find bottles of wine that do not cost more than Php200 each.

Come to La Vie Parisienne. Enjoy some wine, engage in intellectual discussions about books, socio-political concerns, foreign-language films, and eventually, sex, undiagnosed medical conditions, and memorable bowel movements.

Au somme!

Man of Steel (2013)

 
In case you do not know this yet, Lead Character is the Chief Procrastination Officer of his company. And to live up to his position, he is reviewing Man of Steel several days late. And to further outdo himself, he is going to write a lazy review. And here it is:

Any movie that features Henry Cavill is worth watching, even if the movie is tremendously flawed in its writing that Lead Character, at times, wanted to punch someone in the face, or in the neck, or in the small of the back.

Photo taken from jcentrecebu.com

To avoid having to suffer through a long line of moviegoers, Lead Character and friends decided to watch Man of Steel at JCentre Mall. Their cinema is quite small but pleasant. Even if you sit in the front row, your viewing experience will not be compromised as it's at a good distance from the screen. There are a couple of things, though, that Lead Character didn't enjoy. First, the volume was too low. Whether or not it was only the case for that specific screening of Man of Steel doesn't matter. First impressions last. Another, their popcorn comes in just two flavors: salt and cheese. Lead Character prefers sour cream and onion. What's worse? They put too much cheese powder in Lead Character's popcorn that it tasted saltier than a wrestler's neck. For the first time in his life, Lead Character couldn't finish his large bag of popcorn.

12 June 2013

Lazarus

Lead Character is back. You probably thought he's long dead, and perhaps that's been the case. But now he's been resurrected.

The sad thing, though, is that you might think he's bigger than ever. But no. He's about the same size as before. He just hopes to be prolific this time.

And to celebrate his return, he would like to tell a rape joke. If rape jokes offend you, then please stop reading right about HERE. Leave! Close the browser! Do not read past this sentence.

The title of this joke is:

"Casting for a Movie That Features Rape"

A producer and his director are holding an audition for the role of a rapist in a hopefully sexy enough flick that it would be a box office hit. Because of what is required of the role, they have some trouble finding the right actor. Three struggling newcomers show up to audition.

The director asks Actor #1 if he would be OK shooting a rape scene, where he would rape, say, someone like Jessica Soho. Actor #1's eyes widen. He shakes his head. "That would be wrong. I am fine with shooting a rape scene, but not with Jessica Soho." The producer asks why not. Actor #1 says, "Jessica Soho is an accomplished journalist. She is brave, intelligent, and widely respected. If it were with someone stupid and shallow, it would probably be OK."

And with that, the producer and director say, "Thank you for your time. And best of luck." Actor #1 leaves.

The director asks Actor #2 if he would be OK shooting a rape scene, where he would rape, say, someone like Jessica Soho. Actor #2 straightens his stance. "Only if it is done in a serious manner." The producer tells him the movie is a sex comedy, and people will be expected to laugh while someone is being raped. Actor #2 shakes his head. "Then I'm sorry. Rape should never be treated as a joke."

And with that, the producer and director say, "Thank you for your time. And best of luck." Actor #2 leaves.

The director and producer are now fearing that they will never find the right actor, that they might have to resort to CGI in order to accomplish the rape scene. They call on Actor #3, rather gloomily, certain about how it is going to turn out.

The director asks Actor #3 if he would be OK shooting a rape scene, where he would rape, say, someone like Jessica Soho. Actor #3 nods and says, "Sure." The producer gives a quizzical brow. He tells Actor #3, "This is going to be a sex comedy. People will be expected to laugh while someone is being raped." Actor #3 nods and says, "Sure."

The producer and his director are relieved. They finally found their rapist.

Actor #3 clears his throat. "Under one condition, though."

The producer and his director are quiet for a few seconds. The producer brings himself to ask Actor #3, "What is it?"

"I'll do the rape scene. But only if Jessica Soho is on top of me."

The director shakes his head. "Then that won't be possible. How could you possibly rape someone who's on top of you?"

Actor #3 takes a step back. "Thank you for your time, gentlemen. And best of luck." Actor #3 turns to leave.

The producer jumps from his seat. "Now, wait a minute! I'm sure we can figure something out."

Actor #3 turns to face the director and producer again.

"I would like to know," the producer says. "Why are you only willing to shoot the rape scene with Jessica Soho on top of you?"

Actor #3 takes a deep breath, his eyes bore into theirs. "I do not, and never will, take rape lightly."

12 July 2012

Quick updates to make up for the four-month drought

Almost a fortnight ago, Lead Character went to another fashion show. It was by students of fashion design schools in the city--Fashion Institute of Design & Arts (FIDA) and the Fashion Institute of the Philippines (FIP)--held at the VUDU. One of his friends, OLIVERIO, went to FIP and one of his designs was featured on the runway. It was fantastic. Lead Character doesn't really know squat about fashion design so his criteria in judging a dress are simply "wearable" and "nice to look at."

Three highlights of the night are:

1. Oliverio's bow after his work was presented.



2. A bracelet that Lead Character and his friend Brey found on the floor. It just fell from someone's wrist, but they couldn't find who dropped it. Lead Character nudged for Brey to hand it to a waiter, as perhaps they had a Lost-and-Found box. Brey handed it to the guy next to him, who was wearing a black shirt just like the waiters were. The guy turned out to be another customer. But instead of asking why he was handed a bracelet, he just pocketed it. And that, ladies and germs, is how you leave Lead Character speechless. After taking the bracelet, the guy and his friends left the club.

3. The after-party. Well, it wasn't the official after-party of the fashion show, but the after-party of Lead Character and his friends. It's the 6th anniversary of Numero Doce, a bar that has become, over the years, Lead Character's weekend home. Laugh at him if you must, but their shot of Jack Daniel's only costs Php80. Not that it's Lead Character's poison every single time, but for an option to cost only Php80, you can just STFU.


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Movies, movies.

Only two movies are on Lead Character's must-see list this year: PT Anderson's The Master, and Tom Hooper's Les Misérables, a movie based on a musical based on a novel by Victor Hugo. Lead Character wishes to write one day a radio ad based on a painting based on a movie based on a musical based on an afternoon nap-time dream.

One thing to note about movies, and even TV shows, of today is the epidemic of male frontal nudity. To name a few recent ones that Lead Character just saw: Wanderlust and American Reunion. Prosthetics or not, they were still penises. Lead Character wishes for MTRCB to not even go near Magic Mike. Not that it's a certainty, but one can still wish to see Matt Bomer's mini Matt Bomer.

Fifteen minutes into American Reunion, Lead Character was reminded of the first ever American Pie movie, in that it didn't inspire any form of laughter from him, not even a short chuckle. The only thing that made Lead Character root for American Reunion was a line that went something like "Don't mess with the class of '99, bitch!" Hear, hear!

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Lead Character's younger sister has a doll named Sara. She had it since she was about two or three, and it was her favorite toy, because Sara closed her eyes whenever she was in a horizontal position.

More than fifteen years later, Sara is still very much alive, but she has gotten old. So Lead Character decided to give her  makeover.

The result is a doll that's very effective in scaring little children.

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Lead Character wishes to write more. So if he finds the time, expect a flurry of posts from him. Right now, for lack of topics to write about, he may just talk about his travels from last year. Old stories, yes, but it's never too late until they've been forgotten.

30 January 2012

Of an Art Form and Its Gods

When news broke that the Fashion Institute of the Philippines (FIP) was opening its doors in Cebu, Lead Character got excited. Hell, he got more excited about it than when he learned Krispy Kreme was finally opening branches in the city. Lead Character isn't really big on fashion--he's even awkward when it comes to it--but he supports the industry wholeheartedly, and hopes that one day local designers' works are the sartorial preference of everyone.



Last night, FIP had a grand launching show and party at the Ayala Terraces. Lead Character was lucky to have gotten an invitation to the event from his dear friend, and FIP alumnus, Punky. The event was a lot more enjoyable than Lead Character had expected. It was the first time he'd ever witnessed a live runway fashion show, which turned out to be more than just that. It was pageantry infused with rock music, opera, latin beats, art, six-pack abs, indulgence, wine, amuse-bouche binging, fashion, and six-pack abs.

For Lead Character, the show was such a success that he even considered enrolling at the FIP, perhaps to make bags.

Here are a few of Lead Character's favorite things about the evening.

Catering from SumoSam, which was fantastic.
FIP President Renee Salud's opening remarks, which was short.
Lead Character hates long speeches that no one really listens to.
That guy.
In the spirit of gender equality, that girl.
This shot, because it makes Lead Character laugh.
That guy was up there for a full minute. True story!
The soprano singer, who isn't in the photo above.

28 January 2012

Spanish Plum


short fiction

Even though you were technically my second boyfriend, and the seventh man I’ve been in bed with, you were my first of many things. First real love, first meeting with the parents, first live-in arrangement, first (and only) abortion, among other firsts. You were practically my first glimpse, corny as it sounds, of eternity.

We first met on a rainy August afternoon. August 11th, 2003, I remember. My boss couldn’t meet you due to an impromptu lunch meeting with execs from Manila so he asked me to meet with you quickly, check your mood boards, and then reschedule your meeting with my boss for some time after. You were twenty minutes late, and you apologized incessantly. I didn’t mind because you were soaking wet from the rain and your eyes made my knees wobble. You have the kindest eyes I’ve ever seen: big, round, and hazel because of your Spanish blood, as you later explained to me—which makes me want to ask now: how exactly Spanish are you? You last name is Lam-ang. It doesn’t sound Spanish at all. At least, not for me. And I’ve met your parents. They were both from Butuan, none of whom has a hint of Spanish blood. I wish during the two years that we were together I was able to ask you if you were adopted or an illegitimate child, but I was always afraid you would flare up again.

You got pissed after I told you my boss couldn’t make it, which made you even more attractive to me. I always had this thing for pumped-up gentlemen. Of course, you didn’t tell me you were pissed, and you did your best to hide it, but all your uncontrollable hissing was very effectual. And I, pathetic single woman, couldn’t help but appease you. So I told you I loved your presentation, and that I could actually make decisions for my boss so your pitch was as good as approved. It lightened your mood and it pleased me. I wanted to see you again.

I saw you again the week after, when you met with my boss in his office. Your meeting ended pretty well and your pitch, as I had promised it, was approved. On your way out, you passed by my desk, and you asked me out. I was on cloud nine.

Our first date went so well that I felt right then that you were the one, the man I was going to spend the rest of my life with. Perhaps you felt the same because you asked me out again even before our date was over. And I guess I should carry the burden of the blame. I pretended to love Stanley Kubrick. You were a huge Kubrick fan and I took advantage of it. So we talked primarily of A Clockwork Orange and Full Metal Jacket, as though they were as simple as the weather. I never told you that the only reason I’d seen those movies is that my boss is a huge Kubrick fan himself and he made me watch them. This led me to believe that your pitch was approved not because of my urging but because of the shared fandom you had with Sir Larry.

I loved Sir Larry as a boss. I ended up as more than just his PA but a best friend as well. And I should say that much of how we turned out at first was also because of him. He enjoyed seeing us together, so he made sure I got to spend time with you as much as possible.

So this led us to our first night together. After three weeks of dinners out and cups of coffee and Kubrick marathons at your place, I put out—the longest that I ever held out for a guy. Before you, I slept with men on the first and only date; I never dated the same guy twice. There’s no denying that you were indeed special. There was something about your love for the cinema, your passion for your job as an account executive/copywriter with that now-defunct advertising firm, and your self-proclaimed Spanish blood that made me want you to get to know me better, to appreciate me. So I put out that night, and I felt like I was losing my virginity again. I was nervous as hell. But you, damn you, made me feel so special, so appreciated. That night I knew that I was falling deeper and deeper, and I got scared.

I got less scared, though, when we made love again. And again. And again. And all that fear diminished completely when we started to do it almost on a daily basis. So after three months of going out, all I could think of was having sex with you. Sometimes I’d get wet while at work thinking about having sex with you. And I’m very sorry but I never told you this: I got so horny one time in the office that I fucked the janitor. It was an impulse thing. I was longing for you but you were in Baguio that week for a conference.

This had been quite acknowledged between us, but I have to tell you again: I loved your cock. It’s red and shiny, its head plump and healthy like a sineguelas, and its shaft a fat, crooked thing that felt so good inside me. And I made the stupid mistake of saying it out loud. “Your cock head is like a sineguelas.” Secretly, I thought that was the only Spanish in you. It made you laugh then, but it started the euphemism that you so enjoyed saying over and over.

Do you want sineguelas after dinner?

Come to my place for lunch. Have some sineguelas.

Sineguelas for breakfast?

And sineguelas it was: morning, noon, and night. I especially loved it when you plowed into me like a jackhammer. You were the first guy to ever make me scream with pleasure. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, you were the first man to ever give me an orgasm, and multiple orgasms at that. And it wasn’t just about the sineguelas. When you ate my pussy it drove me crazy. Your tongue knew its way in and out and I always ended up looking for something to grab. I would pull on the blanket, throw pillows around, pull on my hair and squeeze my own tits, because that was how wild you drove me. I probably came a million times the whole time I was with you, because you never rested until I fell unconscious from sheer exhaustion, and by then I’d already cum about ten times.

On our fifth month together, while you were driving me back to my apartment, you told me you loved me. I cried. You may not have known this, but I cried. I didn’t tell you back that I loved you, too, but when I got into my room I cried really hard. I cried so hard I started masturbating just as hard. Because I did love you, too. I was just too petrified to say it back.

A few days after you professed your love, I finally found the courage to tell you. You looked so happy back then that you asked me to move in with you. I said yes. Little did I know that saying yes was the start of the terror I never thought you were capable of causing me.

At first things weren’t that bad. The sex was still fantastic. And it gave us the freedom to do whatever we wanted. You would fuck me on the kitchen sink, on the kitchen table, on the coffee table in the living room, in the laundry room, on the bathroom floor. You even enjoyed fucking me in the terrace noontimes on Sundays, because the apartment building was usually empty on Sundays as your neighbors always went to the mall. But I do remember a couple of times hearing some cheering from the opposite apartment while you fucked me doggy-style.

I loved it when you fucked me doggy-style. Your sineguelas hit my G-spot quite deftly while you rubbed my clit with your fingers. It totally drove me crazy that was why I didn’t mind being watched.

But then things started to go downhill. Probably it was because we were getting too familiar that you started showing your true colors. You started to get honest, and for the most part your honesty hurt.

You told me that you weren’t particularly fond of my blowjob.

It depressed me like hell. I felt inadequate. You asked for a deep-throat, which was something I wasn’t capable of doing yet. Because I didn’t even like giving head then; I always ended up gagging, all choked and teary-eyed. Hence I tried something awful, one that caused us to not speak to each other for weeks. You do remember, right? You probably don’t want me to mention this now, but yeah, I did it so you would know it wasn’t easy giving blowjobs. When we had that threesome with Tirso, your high school friend, I intentionally pushed your head down so you could blow him. And you slapped my hand away, staring at me with disbelief. To be honest, I thought you were OK with it because you did make out with him, and the way the two of you were kissing made me believe it wasn’t the first kiss you shared.

So we didn’t talk for a few weeks. That was also the time that I found out I was pregnant. So you couldn’t blame me if I decided to induce an abortion. I had no idea if we were on the verge of breaking up or not, and I was unsure if the baby was yours or Tirso’s because you assholes both ejaculated inside me. But then, when I couldn’t stop bleeding and had to be taken to the hospital, we made up. It was the kind of kiss-and-make-up that made me the saddest woman in the world. Because I always thought I was pro-life, and being with you made me say goodbye to a lot of principles I never thought I would be able to let go just like that. So it wasn’t just the pro-life thing. You made me the kind of woman who would bend over backwards just to please a man.

And yet, I stayed for another year. And I continued with the task of pleasing you.

Our office janitor became my cock-for-practice. I was still intent on giving you the best blowjob but you never told me how you wanted it done. All you did was tell me I wasn’t doing it right. Our office janitor was different. He would tell me when to do it slowly, when to go fast, which part of my mouth I should rub his cock head with, and most importantly, he gave me all the time in the world to learn how to deep-throat. You did nothing but thrust your hips forward and push my head down. You never waited for me to get ready. Joseph always let me do my own thing. And in two week’s time, I was able to reel his cock into my mouth until my lips touched his pubes. And I didn’t gag.

Don’t you remember that one night when I sucked you in and out masterfully that you came three times in my mouth? Yes, I’d gotten all the practice for that from Joseph the janitor. And that night, after driving you crazy with my technique, I started entertaining the thought of leaving you. But I still stayed for a few weeks more. And then things got worse.

You asked me to swallow.

I never wanted to. It was the last thing on my mind. But since I got so good, you were addicted to it. You even stopped pointing your sineguelas into my vagina. All it pointed to was my mouth. And I missed your sineguelas inside my pussy, the way you fucked me real hard to kingdom come.

Swallowing your load was the worst thing ever. Primarily because it was too pungent in taste that I couldn’t stop burping after. Even after I gargled Listerine and drank glasses of water, I still burped and burped. And I burped and burped the next day. The burping stopped at lunchtime when I downed two cans of Sprite. I promised myself never to swallow cum again.

So I left you. Yes, this decision had been too sudden, especially for you. I thought I could stay longer to see if things could still work out, but finding the engagement ring in your drawer was an eye-opener for me. If I stayed and waited for you to come home from work, I knew I couldn’t say no if you proposed in person. And I couldn’t live the rest of my life always wanting to please you.

So goodbye, my love.

I still love you, Chris, but I have to start loving myself more. May you soon find someone better suited for you.

Love,

Nora
xoxo

27 January 2012

An Open Letter to Soap Opera Writers/Creators in the Philippines

How's it hanging?

I hope you are all in good health because I am not. I am just about to get completely well from an unexplained fever (scary!), which has caused me backlogs in both of my full-time and project-based jobs, but despite that, I am finding the time to write you.

Before anything else, I would like to stress that I am not writing this as a fellow writer, but as an audience member. I am barely a writer in my own right, so I cannot use that card when I give you tips on how to improve on your craft.

One of the most memorable job interviews I had was for a position in a film production company. I was asked what my favorite TV show was. My answer, without so much as a blink of an eye, was "Lost." The interviewer then asked me if the Philippines was ready for a TV show like "Lost." My answer was an all-caps NO, explaining that our local channels have just begun remaking old materials that weren't even good to begin with, so how can they possibly be ready for a TV show like "Lost"?

Looking back at that now, I realize that I was too quick to pull the trigger. Creatively, yes, YOU are ready. You can surely come up with something just as good as "Lost," you are just too afraid to do so. But there shouldn't be any reason to be afraid anymore. If you think about it, every Filipino on Facebook has an American TV show as their favorite. Everyone I know who download via torrent or stream off Megavideo understands the complexities of American TV-show storytelling. Hell, not only do they get American humor but British humor as well. And those people are in the very demographics that your advertisers need. So what the eff is holding you back? You had some progress when you did "100 Days to Heaven," but then you regressed with a piece of shit like "Budoy." Again, what the eff?

Here are some pointers that you might find useful in coming up with your next project(s):


1. Cut lengthy crying scenes. We already know what is causing that character pain, but to indulge them for a full minute of nonstop wailing? Yes, this includes burial scenes. We already know people who die get buried, and that their loved ones cry, you do not have to show EVERY SINGLE THING!

2. Enough with the separated-at-birth storylines. This is not readily identifiable by everyone. Most viewers know who their real parents are. Surely, there must be other plots you can play around with that call for climactic endings other than a biological parent-child reunion.

3. Consult professional experts. If your scene involves lawyers or anything of legal nature, consult real-life lawyers on how that scene should go. Same goes for anything medical; consult real-life doctors. So many times have you made real-life doctors cringe at carelessly executed ER and OR scenes. If you already have consultants, get better ones.

4. Flesh out your characters, even the antagonists. Most of your characters are two-dimensional. Even kontrabidas need to relate to us like real people. Stop exaggerating their actions relative to their motivations.

5. Be relevant. How about, instead of simply coming up with tearjerkers, you come up with something meaningful? How about a commentary on the Philippine government? Instead of erroneously telling us that lightning can cure autism, you show, um, as an example, how religion can corrupt a society, or whatever it is that you stand for.

I'm sure there are a lot more you can improve on, but it's already late and  I still have to write my open letter to the Philippine music industry, which might be so full of expletives it will make Regine Velasquez's head explode.

I guess what this all boils down to is for you to think of yourselves again as that young writer who never had a project yet, who was but an audience member at the time. Didn't you dream of becoming great? Didn't you plan of starting a revolution? Didn't you want to change the landscape of Philippine TV? If you did, then it's not too late yet.

Be great. Start a revolution. Change the landscape of Philippine TV.

Love,

Lead Character

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