Saturday, August 27, 2011

Done with La Dolce Far Niente

La dolce far niente | Photo taken here.

I woke up today ready to work. Yesterday, I relished la dolce far niente, which is Italian for "the sweetness of doing nothing." Yeah I got that from Eat Pray Love, my lazy Saturday afternoon movie choice (hence the photo of Julia Roberts eating pizza in Italy).

I'm ready to work on my take home paper work, fill out my Spanish VISA requirements, and edit the letters my mom needs.

Go go go!

Why is loneliness more inspiring than happiness?

Shots! Shots! Shots | Photo take here.
Why is loneliness so much more inspiring than happiness?

So so so much more.

Why is that?

...that when I am brimming with joy, I would much rather ramble and jump like a kangaroo than dig deep into my soul pockets and create something.. something worthwhile.

I remember back in grade school, I was a member of our school's literary club and I remember writing so many poems and prose and essays every time my best friend and I would fight, or every time I got bullied, or every time I'd feel like an idiot when I flunk a quiz after studying the night before, or every time I would I get scolded by my parents. These poems, at that time, were what I considered my best work. In fact, three of the many got published. In fact, those three published poems were key to helping pass the high school of my choice.

Why can't happiness do the same?

Why can't happiness be just as inspiring?

And why is it that when we're lonely, a hollow seems to form inside our stomachs?

In mine at least. A hollow that I want to fill with booze! And every time I do, every time I oblige, I still do not fill out the hollow. Why is it that the booze can never fill the hollow (me) in my stomach enough to let me surface out of loneliness? And yet, I keep drinking it, knowing all too well that it will not get better in the morning, that the hangover will only worsen it.

Lonely, lonely, lonely.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Happy Birthday Daddy!

My Dad resembles Christopher de Leon | Photo taken here.

On my Dad's birthday, my siblings and I granted my Mom's request to serve in mass. You see, my folks lead a community of Christian couples and serve mass every Thursdays. As fate would have it, my Dad's birthday fell on a Thursday and thus, my Mom's request. We obliged, of course.

I was the lector. My sister read the First Reading; my bro, the Responsorial Psalm; and Mom and Dad, the Prayers of the Faithful. I felt like we were the Von Trapp family minus the singing, of course.

The simple things make my parents happy these days—conversations over meals, long drives, overnight trips, movie getaways, skype with my sister. Family activities that seem so elusive these days with our crazy schedules in the office or in school.

For the longest time, my folks have been suggesting that my siblings and I help them serve in mass just like our cousins do in Guam. And for the first time, though incomplete (dear Madrid, you're damn lucky to be with my beautiful sister), we finally did it. Never mind that I felt out of place, what mattered to me was the joy I gave to my parents, especially on my Dad's birthday.

Love you Dad!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Saddest (Pop) Song I've ever heard... Dido's "Honestly OK."
Listen to the saddest pop song I've ever heard here.
Read the lyrics to the saddest pop song I've ever heard below:

Photo taken here.

i just want to feel safe in my own skin i just want to be happy again
i just want to feel deep in my own world
but im so lonely i dont even want to be with myself anymore

on a different day
if i was safe in my own skin
then i wouldn't feel lost and so frightened
but this is today and im lost in my own skin
and im so lonely i dont even want to be with myself anymore

i just want to feel safe in my own skin i just want to be happy again 

Today, for some inexplicable reason, I find myself the song that grew limbs. I hate days like these.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Need to Return to Never Never Land

Photo taken here.
It's like I barely have faith in anything anymore. It's not a hasty generalization. My full embracing of the pragmatic paradigm I carry oh so proudly has caused the death of a big chunk of what made me who I am before, what made me interesting, what made me fun, what made me surprising, what made me quirky, what made me silly, what made me passionate, what made a little bit (that's underplaying it) out of this world. I've killed that part to become who I think I should be. But I wonder now, is it worth it? The change, the sacrifice, the consequence: the person I am right now.

Last night, I went out with Martin and Brian and his sister Louie to Metro Walk to have Martin's and Brian's fortunes told, or rather, to have a peak of what the stars have in store of them, to gain access to that elusive light the stars can give them, the seek a certain someone tapped by the cosmos to be some sort of gateway to the secrets of the universe. His name was August, and he was 30 minutes late from their midnight appointment.

Fastforward to 6am, when Martin and I were on our way home, it dawned on me that I've become a non-believer in most many things! I found it poetic that I thought of this at dawn. And as the faintest sunlight hit the road, that was when it occurred to me that my ego has been, for the longest time now, suffocating my id and thus, the imbalance I'm experience which comes to me in the form of restlessness, insecurity, jealousy, that feeling of inadequacy, that something is missing.

Outside of work, I've a rountinal life which is bad enough considering that my life in the office is routinal too. Nothing shocks me anymore. Yeah surprises here and there abound in our squared life inside our office which is literally fit into a square space, but nothing too extraordinary. And I long for that, and I hate it that I'm making my work my main life to the point that when I'm out of the office "having a life," I talk about my life in the office. That sucks. And I'm not pleased, no matter how much I love my work.

I want something new to talk about. I want to do something new. I want to meet new people and not continue to batter myself over my lack of friends in the office. I want a change in the system. I want to find a hobby. And I find the very idea of wanting to find a hobby weird since that should be the easiest thing! A hobby is something you enjoy, something you find interesting, something that keeps you awake and happy. I'm saddened that I don't know what should be my hobby.

Writing has always been a hobby. I used to keep a journal where I scribbled poetry, prose, essays, fiction, non-fiction, dear-diary moments, and all words in between, but ever since I've carved a career from this hobby, I don't know what else I should do and so, being with friends who've known me since grade school, Martin and Brian, jolt me out of the very square system I've trapped myself in. They jolt me and remind me that there's more out there to explore, that I need to once again open my mind and reconnect with the universe, and by universe, I refer to that time of uninhibition.

I need to return to Never Land, and the first step I need to take is to read my old journals in order to get to know myself again. Though forward is the direction we should be leading to, a look-back on the steps we took prior to where we stand on right now will serve as our compass. That's something new I will believe in.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sugababes, Sugababes, Sugababes, and Sugababes again

SUGABABES 1.0: Exploring the Real Thing

SUGABABES 1.0: (L-R) Siobhan Donaghy, Mutya Buena, and Keisha Buchanan

When I first heard "Overload," it didn't catch my attention immediately. What did though was its video which seemed like a parody of a United Colors of Benetton poster—what with their unmistakably distinct appearances: a Caucasian (Siobhan Donaghy is of Irish descent), an African-English (Keisha Buchanan is of Jamaican descent), and an Asian (Mutya Buena is of Filipino descent). It wasn't until the acoustic, soul track "New Year" was released when I noticed them; it didn't hurt that the video was pretty unique too. Follow-up singles "Run for Cover" and "Soul Sound" made sure that I bought their album, One Touch which had other interesting tracks that had a raw, demo-like sound—a fusion of soul, funk, and acoustic pop music. Among my favorites include "Promises," "Real Thing," and "One Foot In."

SUGABABES 1.0: A seeming advocacy of the United Colors of Benetton campaign

I especially liked the fact that I could easily distinguish their voices. Siobhan had an effortlessly simple, lethargic voice that rendered an indie appeal. Keisha's voice had an innocent and soulful tone which complemented Mutya's gritty, domineering sound. Together, they sounded brilliant! They produced a separate-together harmony. Though well-blended, if you listened closely, you could easily hear each member singing which I thought was refreshing.

SUGABABES 2.0:  Taller in More Ways, Indeed

When I heard wind that Siobhan had left (she wanted to pursue a fashion career, the release said, though the reason would be revealed later on as incessant bullying that led to her clinical depression), I thought it would be end of the Sugababes until I heard "Round Round" which I loved immediately, particularly the third verse wherein the song slows down. It was the beautiful new member Heidi Range singing! Her deep, soulful voice delivered a heavily heartfelt punch that was impossible to ignore. She immediately became my favorite member.

SUGABABES 2.0: (L-R) Heidi Range, Mutya Buena, and Keisha Buchanan

The Sugababes' second incarnation had a distinct sound from its original predecessor. Mutya, Keisha, and Heidi churned out music that seemed like the antithesis to girl group groove. Their music was darker ("Freak Like Me", "Stronger"), more soulful ("Too Lost In You", "Caught in a Moment"), and catchier (funky "Hole in the Head", flirty "Push the Button", and anthemic "Ugly"). It was a play of elements from R&B to soul, to techno, to acoustic, and to street. The arrangements of their songs highlighted their individuality (their template arrangement of Mutya-Keisha-Heidi was hard to miss), underscoring each member's distinct vocal pyrotechnics and at the same time, in some songs, boasted of unpredictable arrangements reminiscent of the vocal arrangements of 1.0. Lyrically, Sugababes 2.0 discussed adolescent themes of independence, relationships, sexuality, and individuality (there was also a noticeable overuse of the word "freak" for some reason) which were reflected in their choice of hit-and-miss fashion forays: leather and lace, ghetto and glam.

SUGABABES 2.0: Leather and Lace, Ghetto and Glam

During this era, Mutya stood out as the undisputed leader. She pouted moodily, raised an eyebrow, and pulled off fashion that was part ghetto and part drag. She was street, she was funk, and she was the axis Keisha and Heidi orbited around. (Her musical influence on 2.0's overall sound is proven in her debut solo album, the dark element which 3.0 lacks.)

I think that the Sugababes 2.0 was the golden era in the Sugababes legacy.

SUGABABES 3.0: Changed and Changing

I didn't think I would be a fan of Sugababes 3.0. "Easy" sounded mediocre and was crassly written. "About You Now," however, changed my mind. Husky-voiced Amelle Berrabah of Moroccan descent, who didn't hold a candle to Mutya (her re-recorded versions of "Red Dress" and "Follow Me Home" lacked the attitude and sultriness of Mutya's versions), contributed a different flavor nonetheless and I grew to like and accept her.

SUGABABES 3.0: (L-R) Keisha Buchanan, Amelle Berrabah, and Heidi Range

Sugababes 3.0 saw the rise of Keisha. It was an opportune time for her to dominate and establish herself as the leader of the gang. She was, after all, the remaining founding member. Musically, 3.0 was experimental. In Change, they rode the dance-pop sound that made 2.0's ground-breaking Taller In More Ways successful. In Catfights and Spotlights, they rode the jazzy Adelle and Amy Winehouse bandwagon, while in the Sweet 7 (I count this as 3.0's album still, in spite of the re-recorded vocals because it was conceptualized and produced before Keisha was fired), they then rode the techno-dance-R&B Ne-Yo, Rihanna, and Ke$ha bandwagon.

SUGABABES 3.0: Riding the trends, embracing pop culture

Sugababes 3.0 lost the identity that 2.0 toiled to create. It didn't help either that they kept changing their sound. Still, they had some standout singles such as "Denial" and "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" (an Arctic Monkeys cover; though not an official single, it might as well have been because of its popularity; a good choice I'm sure Mutya would approve of); and album tracks such as "Never Gonna Dance Again" (a dance song, reminiscent of "Careless Whisper"), "Back Down" (another track from Change like the former), "Nothing's As Good As You" (a very pretty, Motown-inspired song), and "Betcha By Golly Wow" (a Prince cover with Heidi on lead).

Furthermore, Sugababes 3.0 embraced a more glamorous image (which 1.0 and 2.0 seemed to avoid, preferring teenage tank tops and jeans and rubber shoes and boots over low-necked, skimpy tops and short skirts and high heels), probably to keep up with then competition Girls Aloud whose members all looked like models and truthfully, only Heidi could compare (she was included in an FHM top list). Keisha and Amelle, though not unattractive themselves, looked heavily made up. Furthermore still, 3.0 also embraced a sexier image, which 2.0 introduced via number single "Push the Button."

SUGABABES 4.0: Gets Sexy Right Now

And then the Sugababes took on a fourth rebirth, an edgier, sexier, and prettier reboot via Sugababes 4.0; Heidi, Amelle, and UK Eurovision contestant Jade Ewen maintaining the racial diversity of Siobhan, Mutya, and Keisha nonetheless—a quality unique to the Sugababes.

To be honest, just because Heidi was still around (and I was never a big fan of Keisha), I was still willing to give the new and current line-up a chance to win my heart and after several loops of "About A Girl," win my heart they did, especially after hearing them live and acoustic at Radio 1's Live Lounge when they also sang a cover of Florence + The Machine's "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)."

SUGABABES 4.0: (L-R) Jade Ewen, Heidi Range, and Amelle Berrabah

Jade is very likable. She has a pretty face, a pair of legs that flows endlessly below her micro mini skirts, and a soaring, jaw-dropping vocal talent that Keisha wish she had when 3.0 performed En Vogue's "Don't Let Go" and Labelle's "Lady Marmalade." I kid, I kid. Jade contributes a gospel sound to the Sugababes sound, and though refreshingly interesting, it makes the haunting, dark sound that 2.0 started and 3.0 deviated from, officially obsolete. Even if she complements Amelle's and Heidi's husky and vocals respectively, she outshines them unintentionally (?), steering the Sugababes sound in the direction that Destiny's Child took. Take a listen to "Wait for You," "Thank you for the Heartbreak," and "No More You" and see for yourself. This adds meat to Mutya's claims that replacing Keisha would turn Amelle and Heidi into back-ups; it also asserts my earlier claim of Keisha's efforts to reign during the 3.0 era. After all, the arrangements of the songs in 4.0's re-recorded Sweet 7 were done while Keisha was around.

SUGABABES 4.0: "You don't know about a girl, I'll take over the world..."

Not much can be said, therefore, of 4.0's sound, because the songs in Sweet 7 were not theirs as a group but that of 3.0's trailing of the American dream (its flopping therefore may not be entirely blamed on them), and especially because they keep singing Sugababes hits in their live performances with very minor vocal rearrangements. Living in the shadows of 2.0 and 3.0, it's disappointing how they replicate the vocal arrangements of the former and chameleon image of the latter.

What I hope, though, is that they create a new sound unique and fitting to their vocals and not live in the shadows of their predecessors (like what they're doing now, probably to evoke feelings of familiarity in Sugababes fans) and re-create an image distinct from skanky American girl groups Pussycat Dolls, Danity Kane, and Girlicious. If their choice of "Rabbit Heart" is any indication of their type of music, then I've high hopes on 4.0's upcoming new album. I'm crossing my fingers.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What would Grandmother Willow say?

Photo taken here.

Maturity is...
Learning how to moderate your id;
It's about thinking before talking;
Discerning when to say "yes" and "no";
Learning how to swallow your pride for the people you love;
Knowing when the time to speak and keep quiet is...

Is that right?