Changing seasons blues

Slept past 3 a.m. last night monitoring the ugly goings-on in Marawi City, a southern Philippine city besieged by armed supporters of ISIS, and now I’m feeling it. I’m drinking Cobra Energy Drink with hopes that it will sustain me for the day’s nine-hour grind. Now that martial law has been declared in Mindanao, I see a long, busy shift. It doesn’t help that it was raining when I left the house this morning. Can’t help but feel dead.

With June around the corner, so is the rainy season, and with it, the blues.

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I’ve never been fond of June. It’s the month when school opens here in the Philippines. And since my student life had been anything but happy (generally speaking), June was naturally a difficult month to deal with. I remember every time May rolled in, I’d start to have this sick feeling in my gut like everything was about to come to a tragic end. As June approached, friends and family would note my long bouts of silence, and would question why I seem to sigh a lot. For some reason, more than a decade after finishing school, rains in May still have that power to bring back that kind of weird despondency in me, and I’m helpless to shake it off. To nurse it, I listen to Owen’s At Home with Owen or Tom Waits’ Closing Time. I figure if you can’t beat it, at least give it a nice soundtrack.

Okay. Back to the grind…

The weekend that was (5-22-17)

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I used to do this on my previous blogs — a weekly lowdown on how my weekend went. Aside from the joy of doing it, it also allows me to keep track on the many homebody stuff I’m always juggling — the books and comics I’m reading, the TV series I’m following, the movies I’m watching. It also allows me to assess how cool or lame that specific two-day break from work had been. As much as possible, I write it on a Monday, when the memory is still fresh, and the aftertaste, foul or otherwise, still lingers.

So, without further ado…

Saturday

  • Woke up, thought of biking, realized I slept past 3 a.m. last night, went back to sleep instead
  • Accompanied the girls to the mall – they went to the salon, I to the toy store
  • Caught a portion of Hi5’s mall performance (daughter not interested as she was not familiar with the new batch — no more Lauren Brant!)
  • Bought Neil Gaiman’s The View from the Cheap Seats from the dullest National Bookstore branch in the world (no graphic novels!)
  • Tried sprucing up the garden until twilight made it hard for me to see anything
  • Watched Episode 4 of Fargo Season 3Would’ve gone for Episode 5 but by that time it was already late and my eyes were already heavy

Sunday

  • House chores galore (me at war with nasty floor stains) while listening to 90’s rock (Silverchair, The Nixons, Screaming Trees, Pearl Jam, Singles OST)
  • Shave + haircut (learned that my barber’s younger brother was one of the three Air Force soldiers who died in a chopper crash in Tanay, Rizal, two weeks ago)
  • Finished reading The Trenchcoat Brigade
  • Read a couple of pages of Ioann Grillo’s El Narco: Inside Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency
  • Grocery
  • Pampered ourselves with an hour of Swedish massage
  • Watched Episode 3 of American Gods

And now it’s Monday, a bit cloudy outside, the air smelling of rain, and I hope this workweek will be a fast one. Unless something crazy happens, like the world going kaput, me and the girls will be beachfront next weekend.

Chris Cornell, 1964 – 2017

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Almost 24 hours have gone by and I am still reeling from yesterday’s bad news. It was sad to learn about Chris Cornell’s death at age 52, but to find out later that it was a case of suicide was just plane depressing. Jesus! What is it with these Seattle grunge vocalists and tragic death? Andrew Wood, Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley… and now Cornell. (Scott Weiland too, although he’s from San Diego.) Someone should ensure Eddie Vedder is sane and sober 24/7…

Almost 24 have gone by and my Facebook wall is still a virtual Chris Cornell memory altar. Pictures, videos, news reports. Here and there are personal tributes. Powerful one-liners about pain and loss, about music and legacy. Outsiders will never understand, but this is something personal, not only to us 90s kids but to others as well who, in one way or another, were touched by Chris Cornell’s music.

What can I say? Depression is a bitch. If only we can save our heroes the same way they save us through their arts.

My two cents: Assassin’s Creed

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It was a Saturday night and I had two choices: I could either watch Alien: Covenant in a nearby mall, or stay at home and check out one of the dozens of movies waiting to be watched in my laptop. A check on my wallet (it was the weekend before payday) made me ditch the first option. Hence, Assassin’s Creed.

I know. Assassin’s Creed over Alien: Covenant? Sue me.

Films based on video games seem to me to be a losing proposition. Outside of hardcore gamers and bored bloggers on Saturday night, I can’t think of anybody who has more than a passing interest in them. Oftentimes also, these films get thrashed by critics. Though I find Assassin’s Creed — about a street thug who, with the help of modern technology, lives out the life of his assassin ancestor to fight an ancient war — quite enjoyable, in a genre that is difficult to take seriously, that’s not saying much.

But I got to give it to director Justin Kurzel, Michael Fassbender (who is also among the producers), and Marion Cotillard. Even on a small screen, I couldn’t help but feel the enthusiasm of these three in proving the naysayers of the genre wrong, or at least make Assassin’s Creed stand above the herd of bleeding epic failures. Their heart made the film kind of work. Emphasis on “kind of,” because in the end, even if it’s fun to look at, I don’t think Assassin’s Creed is enough to break the mold of video game movies.

Free Comic Book Day 2017: Hits & misses

As someone who just recently rediscovered his love for comics, I made it a point to have my first Free Comic Book Day experience this year. I’ve seen friends brag about their “hauls” and “loot” on social media in the past. I figured I should embark on a similar quest for experience’s sake. After all, who doesn’t like freebies?

And so 8 a.m. Saturday found me in a queue outside Megamall for Filbar’s FCBD.

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Photo from Facebook

Although I knew doors won’t be open until 10 a.m., I went there early because of the free Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 poster that was promised to the first 200 early birds. I enjoyed the movie immensely, so I thought a poster would be an awesome souvenir. The hell with the long wait, I told myself. I can manage. To kill boredom I read Richard Matheson’s Nightmare at 20,000 Feet: Horror Stories. Every now and then I’d pull my head up from my Kindle to watch people. There is something calming about watching a shopping mall stir to life on a fine weekend morning. It inspired introspection.

And then it was 10 a.m. and the doors were open, and what followed was something I didn’t expect: a mad dash inside the mall to… another line! And this one was longer — extending five floors up, I later learned. My mood crashed. Goodbye, Guardians of the Galaxy poster. I should’ve stayed in bed.

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But I persisted. I woke up early and traveled far for this, so why give up? Eventually, Filbar’s gave each of us this “flash pass” that showed the time window at which we could go to the store to pick up our two free comics. This way, they said, we didn’t have to fall in line. Cool, I thought. Unfortunately, I was given the 2:51 p.m. to 3 p.m. time window, and by that time it was only a little over 11 a.m. Ugh. How did I handle the long hours in between? Let’s just say that if I don’t set foot in Megamall again in the next 12 months, I’d still be perfectly okay.

2:51 p.m. came and so was another heartache: the free comics I chose were not available. Something about a delay with Customs. Instead, they asked for my personal number and gave me a claim stub. They said they would contact me if the comics are already available for pick-up. I was crestfallen, to say the least. All the trouble for a freaking claim stub! To cheer myself up and in order not to go home empty-handed, I bought two of the discounted graphic novels that littered the store.

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And yes, I also bought a Guardians of the Galaxy poster.

By 3:10 p.m. I was out of Megamall and was on my way home. I was tired, my feet hurt, and I was not really sure whether I should celebrate or not. Heck, I was not even sure if I’m going to do it again next year.