Anti-Social Network

Here is this movie, trying to tell us that we are Mark Zuckerberg’s sheep that he has effortlessly been shepherding into a life of inactivity, subjecting us to an all-consuming leisure, and not a significant number of us think to quit it. It could also be trying to say that Zuckerberg truly deserves the billions, for he, too, is just like us, and geniuses like him are perfect magnifications of the belief that people who are smart and cunning are the ones most likely to become billionaires no matter how sarcastic, plastic and morally bankrupt they are. After all, it shows how easily he’s beaten his former partners and would have been business associates, Eduardo Saverin and the beautiful Winklevoss twin in the battle for billions. It gets the idea of greed and cunning so precisely and with such perfect soundtrack.

What triumphs though is the idea that Facebook is a product of a devious mind, the powers of which are felt the world over. Someone says in the film, perhaps meant as a joke, that even Indonesia has Facebook, which of course doesn’t make sense as a joke since Indonesia is fine, it’s a country that wouldn’t look like they’d treat Facebook as a disease or a product that should be avoided. So strong and so alluring is Facebook that attempts to get out of it by people who may have had ‘I will quit FB’ reactions to the film may as well have been saying equally false pronouncements as ‘I will lessen my Facebook face time as a form of protest’. There is simply no quitting it.

People who never felt compelled to join Facebook, those who never thought to be herded into any social networking site, those who even go so far as to vow not to watch the film because they’re not into Facebook (which is like saying I won’t watch disaster films because I’m not into disasters, kind of), however, will be even harder to coerce to sign up for it, thanks to Jesse Eisenberg’s unforgettable portrayal of Zuckerberg.

The rest will remain Facebookers because such is the power of our intellectual superiors that we gladly consume products of their greed and contempt. Obviously not all intelligent persons are responsible for the world’s ills, obviously. In the case of the productivity-reducing, social interaction bastardizing force of nature that is Facebook, it only took one mind, maybe along with three or four others, but just only one that altered the way we make people rich nowadays.

Money won’t make you happy, the adage, sort of rings true when pay day approaches and you’re not jumping for joy, when normally, it makes you jump so high for joy, often figuratively, like the 15th/30th is the second coming and Jesus himself is handing you your paycheck, or more realistically, Jesus himself electronically transfers your salary to your payroll account. I really like to rub it in, the venting. Like Shirley Manson and her rain, I’m only happy when I vent.

‘Tard tard tard,’ Stice says.
Group empathy is expressed via sighs, further slumping, small spastic gestures of exhaustion, the soft clanks of skulls’ backs against the lockers’ thin steel.
‘My bones are ringing the way sometimes people say their ears are ringing, I’m so tired.’
‘I’m waiting til the last possible second to even breathe. I’m not expanding the cage till driven by necessity of air.’
‘So tired it’s out of tired’s word-range,’ Pemulis says. ‘Tired just doesn’t do it.’
‘Exhausted, shot, depleted,’ says Jim Struck, grinding at his closed eye with the heel of his hand. ‘Cashed. Totalled.’
‘Look.’ Pemulis pointing at Struck. ‘It’s trying to think.’
‘A moving thing to see.’
‘Beat. Worn the heck out.’
‘Worn the fuck-all out is more like.’
‘Wrung dry. Whacked. Tuckered out. More dead than alive.’
‘None even come close, the words.’

The Plan

I will pack the few things I have
earned through living and go to X.

I will hail a taxi and brave
Manila traffic. I will make it

in time for my flight. The driver
will not mutter under his breath

when I give him the exact fare.
I will get a window seat, stare

at the clouds, and wonder idly
about the sad work of water,

hauling itself off the earth.
I will have time to wonder.

My boss will not be there to look
through the glass of his office.

I will look below and wave goodbye
to nothing. I will sleep for hours.

I will wake up to a new smell
as the plane touches down

on the island whose natives,
with skin browner than mine,

will welcome me with a dance
to music I will not understand.

I will sit on the sand and watch
the rain crashing into the sea.

I will never leave.
I will never leave.

-Kash Avena’s and mine.

How I feel about the inescapable

In every way that counted I was dead. Inside somewhere maybe I was screaming and weeping and howling like an animal, but that was another person deep inside, another person who had no access to the lips and face and mouth and head, so on the surface I just shrugged and smiled and kept moving. If I could have physically passed away, just let it all go, like that, without doing anything, stepped out of life as easily as walking through a door, I would have done. But I was going to sleep at night and waking in the morning, disappointed to be there and resigned to existence.

You see, when you’re middle class, you have to live with the fact that history will ignore you. You have to live with the fact that history can never champion your causes and that history will never feel sorry for you. It is the price that is paid for day-to-day comfort and silence. And because of this price, all happinesses are sterile; all sadnesses go unpitied.

The Manila earthquake prediction

Makes you wonder if there’s still a point in all that you do, been doing and will be doing, because would you rather be in enclosed spaces where the possibility of being trapped in the embrace of electronics and dead cells and organisms and events that resemble death, the everyday ones most especially, or be elsewhere and do what the dying, days-are-numbered ill people are doing with relish because they’re of the live your life as if it were the last belief and don’t you think they’re in that rare state of being in the more advantageous position of being able to live their life exactly as they want because they’re highly aware of their position on earth unless they’re bedridden? Between the bed and the oppressive lights and functionality of unavoidable electronics of everyday life/death, bed often provides much, much better cushion but that’s just one person’s lazy opinion and obviously some mornings can not be cured by even the best tasting Colombian coffee.

Makes you want to make the sort of generic complaints about things you have no control over but which you will not make because it’s not proper and everywhere is a highly controlled environment where you may think no one’s watching but someone’s definitely watching. Someone’s watching because in the first place, you pimped your innocent spot on the virtual and actual earth. It’s a controlled environment where scientist observers make zero effort to be known as beings who are aware that you’re saying or doing things, or just scientists who refuse to acknowledge that some people, specimens to be upright about the awkward metaphor, chief of them the complaining types, are discontent but not entirely miserable because at least they still eat and in the end the acknowledgment refusers, the true and deliberate apathetics win but you still don’t wish to be like them even if they seem like big winners. It makes you want to strangle them, preempt the earthquake.

It is a potent driver of desire to say things that take temporary but huge space in the heart and brain but which never helps the progress of one those things that you have no control over called you know what. It is also a potent driver for resortation to unclear, best left to the imagination feelings that often turn out to be just desire to have things put on empty white spaces that do not even beg filling. But enough already with the potent driver, potent driver. What it really is is it drives you nuts.

Big Boss

Katrina’s arrival warrants leaves from work. I take vacation leaves so I could manage my schedule. Sometimes I can sense that it’s not doing us that much good, being together, just us, talking about what we’ve been talking about since the day we discovered this extraordinary activity of actively sitting around with beer, cigarettes or coffee, pronouncing ourselves “depressed”. But as a testament to our Will & Grace-like fondness for each other, we almost always let the other one have his/her time to shine, if, on a previous sitting-around session, the one has established that his/her ‘depression’ is more important. We’re not really depressed. What we are, are unsatisfied 25-year olds who ask the most obvious 25 year old questions to each other, which, if you’ve ever been the type of 20-something who gives this particular age area the biggest deal, you might know which questions. We ask the questions that matter: What makes a person happy? What are my goals? and Where is he/she(!)? and come up with no answers either of us could be happy about. It’s like we’re co-authors on a self-help book about The Hardships 25 Year-olds Face that nobody reads. She’s maybe second of maybe just 2 girls I’ve ever had a serious relationship with but I sometimes detest being with her and being hopelessly contemplative.

She arrives from the gloomy but glittery Middle East and I rearrange activities and budgets temporarily. Like all other nights, it’s coffee first somewhere in Ayala, she waits for me, I stall but not entirely on purpose, and she texts me profanity on my way to her seat at typically a Starbucks because I’m late. Then dinner at a nice place but in a cheap one because Makati and Middle East exhaust both of our funds and it’s not like we really eat. I secretly anticipate her nasty habit of summoning people up wherever we are, despite it being 90% of the time awkward since I can’t relate to some of her peoples. Since she left, I wanted to tell her that people started to lead Katrina-less lives and there are only a few of us who would file leaves or get off work earlier than usual, just to be with her and her smokes. She knows it I’m sure so I refrain from telling.

People are unresponsive to her summons on this particular night so it’s just us two. We’re both not crazy about being without any other company but we’re friends forever! It’s not nice to ditch a friend who just arrived from wherever, but really, it’s just that when it comes to her, I’m powerless. So we go to Metrowalk and the place reminds me of some of the reasons why I think it’s occasionally unhealthy to just be with her and nobody else mainly because the place has such a lousy aura and crowd. It’s not just that one bar but the whole plaza. A terrible band is playing and we camp in an area that would make it impossible to not hear anything. The vocalist sings a bad cover of ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ which was really so bad. What’s worse is that the group of guys next to us is genuinely having fun. It doesn’t even matter that they looked like they were having just the right amount of fun. I could not stand the guy mouthing the words to the song as if he’s not hearing something awful. Then out comes washed out PBA players Alvin Patrimonio, Atoy Co and their ilk. What should a group of sad, sorry looking girlfriend-clutching guys do but take pictures. It was really bad because one of them had to request for another shot on two separate occasions just because the first one probably was a bad shot because the picture taker was an idiot.

We’ve had enough so we enter lousy bar and singer songwriter was singing songs that are requested on Love radio and I prefer this over the mini-concert outside. Inside the bar were call center agents on their day off. One of them, a short, gayish guy destroys Alicia Keys’ ‘If I Ain’t Got You’. They were having a sing-off with the PBA celebs’ sidekicks. PBA guys were inside too and it wasn’t 2o minutes that we get in that the bitches who were singing along to Total Eclipse gets in and requests to take a snapshot with Allan Caidic. They really suck.

10 minutes later, one of Katrina’s peoples arrives and we had a really awkward moment because he was going to embrace me because he thought I was Steve, a guy he was going to embrace because he was supposed to know him but actually didn’t. And so we don’t embrace. We hated the scene but we know we’re part of the very crowd we’re openly detesting. And that’s what I love about her, that she can tolerate me and these people. Nights such as this deserve an early finale, but I really missed girlfriend.

Turn away if you don’t care to read about Mariah Carey

I’ve been lamenting the absence of Quality, Serious, Oscar-whoring films in Manila for such a long time when what I should have been doing was scouring through Makati Cinema Square’s valuable trove of (technically) stolen DVDs, because where else could I find soon-to-be but probably never going to be released underground Mariah Carey movies such as Tennessee and Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire? I haven’t really found either of these two but I’ve seen the Oscar-whoringer movie, Precious because of my precious.

The film is as good and as ‘dark’ as it’s hyped but you’ve seen grittier and obscener Social Relevance Movies because no country does poverty movies quite like the Philippines. Aside from gay indies, Star Cinema rom-coms and Bong Revilla Best Actor-snatching fantasies, we churn as much poverty-themed movies as much as we do cornies. I’ve seen grittier films but none that would have Mariah in them so Precious trumps everything else.

Precious is perceived as ‘dark’ but it makes up for its dark subject, an obese, illiterate and HIV-infected teenage girl, by having elaborate and cute fantasy sequences. It makes you feel a little morose, even more so as the film progresses because the tragedies, in perhaps the same pace as Precious’ pounds, just keep coming at her. It tries to be optimistic but the joys are only fleeting. But despite the outrageous number of tragedies that you could swear is the most that ever befell a teenage girl, something about it rings true, such as having an abusive mother. It’s a little too obvious to say but the thing that makes it work is the acting. It is director Lee Daniels’ genius instinct to obsess over the actors’ faces over anything else because he knew (just as I knew) that his best instrument is an actor’s performance. Wow.

I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest that Mariah just might be the new Cher who could win an Oscar, but I hope she does! I’m obviously not the most reliable person to judge her performance based on its actual merits and I’m probably the least reliable, but I’ve thought this over and hard. Mariah’s performance is a big deal because she’s probably the most dubious singer-turned actor to be cast in this type of movie, and it doesn’t help that she’s a big celebrity in a small, prestige movie, which is why it’s hard for some to appreciate the performance, which is the most uncharacteristic she’s ever been as an actress and a diva. In the last scene with Mo’nique (Mary) and Gabourey Sidibe (Precious), Mariah (Ms. Weiss), all in under 15 minutes, did what she can with the little that she has to say, with only that rumble-y, worn out voice, ugly costume, and a veneer of toughness that’s the perfect buffer for Mo’nique’s intense monologue.

Depending on which part of the movie-anticipating part of the world you’re from, wanting to see a movie as hyped as Precious is like wanting to listen to depressing music and expecting to feel something beautiful. Lame analogy, okay, but anyway. We in the third world treat the coming of world cinema as if it’s the second coming because film distribution in our world is slow. I don’t mind very much but it’s annoying anyway. It makes me want to frying pan film distributors’ heads, Mary Jones-style.

Becoming That Tito

One day, Justin and I talked about our future. We were concerned about who we would become when we hit out 30s. Justin, by the way, is a cousin with whom I have nothing in common except for the fact that we share the same disdain for some relatives. In our somewhat sprawling family, he is the only one that I can talk to about how extremely messed up our relatives are. Justin and I dislike our burgis cousins who think they’re more pogi than us. We bond over beer and hatred, I guess you can say.

If we’re lucky, our pesky titos will leave us alone at Christmastime and allow us the luxury of getting drunk hassle-free. If we’re lucky, they would completely ignore us or just me, and not ask questions to which answers they don’t really care to know. It’s actually amusing and sometimes fun to be interrogated and it’s really not a big deal and I’m just really filling space and creating something to complain about. I should really be making plans now because much as I despise christmas, I don’t want to fill the rest of the day thinking about things I have no control over. What to drink later and how much, these are things I have total control over.

Titos will parade in front of us today for our scrutinizing pleasure and displeasure and we’d see who we’d really soon become because  on previous discussions, I dreaded becoming that tito whose life I absolutely, undoubtedly mirror. I can not be this tito. Justin, though, hadn’t seemed to have any qualms about being like several of the wasted, ambiguous lifestyle-living titos because he lives differently. He could one day turn out to be Mon, the married, plain-living, good-looking in his early 30s, fun, cool-with-the-nieces Tito and be happy and contented. Or we thought, he could be the drug addict tito of which we have a lot and grow up to be an… addict, although he swears he won’t do drugs, just smokes of the highest kind. Me, even if the evidence is crystal clear, will become that tito. I’m already him, in a way: won’t marry (at least not today or next year), held together by coffee, wants little company, openly critical and hopeful. He’s not bad but I hope I become Mon instead.