about the talking fish

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Writer. Wheelman. Occasional DIY mechanic. Walking collection of hang-ups. Hopeless romantic. Old-school. Analog soul in a digital world. I am all of these things and more.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Music and lyrics...and how to move on.

At work, we got to watch "Music and Lyrics" on DVD over lunch. I never got to watch it in the cinema.

The movie was every bit as good as it was touted to be. Hugh Grant as a fictional '80s pop star has-been is very believable, and Drew Barrymore is exceptional as a subtle comedienne. Both sing pretty well, the songs are great soundtrack material, and Hugh's dance moves are both laughable and endearing in their tackiness. There's quite an age gap between them, but in the running time of the movie I conveniently forgot that because it didn't matter. They have good chemistry.

That's not the point though. The reason why I enjoyed "Music and Lyrics" so much was it spoke to me very clearly, about what I should do about my heartbreak.

In a sense I'm a lot like Barrymore's character Sophie Fisher. In many ways, I'm still living in a fairy tale, and when things aren't going the way I want them to, I'm ill-equipped to deal with them. But when things go wrong, the film taught me the absolute worst thing I could do is to be self-indulgent and brood in depression for far too long.

Why am I still in this rut? I may finally have an answer. There are things I wanted to happen, things I wanted to tell her, and I will never have the opportunity to make them reality. There are so many what-might-have-beens that plague my mind, keeping me fixated on her like some kind of addictive narcotic and preventing me from moving on with my life.

I am ultimately punishing myself---and what for? I gave it my best shot and I failed. I would have regretted it even more had I not tried anyway. I have to accept with finality that it will never be, that I deserve to be happy again.

This leads me to the final realization "Music and Lyrics" taught me. How will that girl out there know that I am passionate about her? She will know when I show her that she changed me. She will know when I do something so unusual, so out of character, so stupid even, that it will speak to her heart more directly than any amount of blatantly overrated physical intimacy.

I am as hopeless a romantic as ever...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Return to relative normalcy

I think
It's getting to the point where I can be myself again
I think
It's getting to the point where we have almost made amends
I think
It's getting to the point that is the hardest part

And if you call, I will answer
And if you fall, I'll pick you up
And if you court this disaster, I'll point you home
I'll point you home

You think
I only think about you when we're both in the same room
You think
I'm only here to witness the remains of love exhumed
You think
We're here to play a game of who-loves-more-than-whom

And if you call, I will answer
And if you fall, I'll pick you up
And if you court this disaster, I'll point you home

You think
It's only fair to do what's best for you and you alone
You think
It's only fair to do the same to me when you're not home
I think
It's time to make this something that is more than only fair

So if you call, I will answer
And if you fall, I'll pick you up
And if you court this disaster, I'll point you home

But I'm warning you, don't ever do
Those crazy messed-up things that you do
If you ever do, I promise you
I'll be the first to crucify you
Now it's time to prove
That you've come back here to rebuild...

- Barenaked Ladies, "Call and Answer"

Charmed, I'm sure

After the recent victory came an unexpected surprise.

There are actually girls out there who think I am crush material.

What can I say? I'm actually flattered. I guess I have my charms after all.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The victor's prayer

It's funny how the elation of winning sent me into a contemplative state I don't normally find myself in. While Paolo enjoyed himself by playing a casual game with his friend Lilac, I went to the bleachers...and prayed.

Let's start with the obvious: I thanked God for giving me my very first tournament victory.

I also sought forgiveness for indulging in things I shouldn't (I think I'm done with that), and for having been a moody, lost, lonely asshole for quite a while.

I prayed for my leads, Celine, Mervin and Gracey, and wished our project would just finish already.

I prayed that no matter how tough, I might finally let go of my bitter heartbreak---something I've never been good at. It's no longer healthy for me and everyone else involved. Besides, I should have better things to do.

I prayed for Gracey and Paolo, perhaps my best friends at work, and how I wish they'd never get sick of my eccentricities. I wished they'd keep me as their friend for as long as possible because they probably don't yet know how much I appreciate them.

After meeting a new friend in one of the most extravagant ways I know, I've realized I'm actually very lucky and blessed. I prayed I wouldn't take all of this for granted.

Funny, indeed, that I just had to find the time to pray for all this after winning.

A loser no more

Today was the culmination of all our preparations. Today was the first Accenture All-Men Badminton Cup, held at Yonex Philippines Badminton Club along Shaw Blvd.

Paolo Cruz and I didn't have any idea what we would be up against. This is literally our very first tournament as partners, although we've been playing together as a tandem for at least a year. We were put in Level 6, squarely in the middle of the 11-level field of 166 competitors. After signing up, we each got a spiffy white and gray sweat-wicking jersey.

Before each game, we traded our usual lines of pep talk...with respect for two of the greatest badminton players of our time.

"Go, Lin Dan," I call out.

"Go, Taufik," he hollers back.

Things in Level 6 didn't get off to a good start. For the three elimination rounds, only two games will be played per match, so if you lost one the best you could hope for is a draw...and pray you scored higher in the points tally. Our first match was just that---a draw, although technically we won by two points.

We were feeling the pressure of the tournament. I couldn't hit and smash the shuttle as cleanly as I wanted, and Paolo was having trouble moving around because we were always worrying about the score.

Our second match was a lucky break. The pair we squared off with was apparently mis-leveled, because in their words we "massacred" them with straight wins. Paolo and I really think they should have been in Level 8, but we won't argue with a legitimate win.

The third match pushed us both to our bending points. Thrice, the referee made very wrong calls in favor of our competitors. The frustration and disappointment were obvious on Paolo's face, while I got incensed enough to throw my racket into a flat-spin after the bad calls and a particularly bad play. We almost lost that win for a draw, considering our opponents weren't really as good as the first pair of the day. We ended the elimination round with two wins and a draw, which meant we were in the semifinals.

We finally found our groove in the semifinal game. This time, it was two out of three games to a match, which is how we normally play. Our opponents were much older, but they were quite good. I was enjoying myself so much it took me a while to realize I was chasing shots I should have been ignoring. They were traveling too long and already outside the court. A hard-fought victory was ours in two straight games. Already Paolo was elated with the thought of reaching the finals.

Just as we were about to watch the higher-level players in the semifinals, we were called for our final game. The same friendly referree from the semifinals was calling the game as fairly as he knew how, and it was reassuring to see none of the third-game fiascoes would rear their ugly heads.

Our opponents this time were very good, and technically they had a larger arsenal of moves. Twice, Paolo and I were caught out by a cleanly played cross-court net shot, in near-identical fashion. Unfortunately, my defensive clears and smashes, paired with Paolo's agile feet and scathing kills, were more consistent. I even managed to spring surprise responses to their serves. Not even my Adidas Samba Millenniums getting doubled-up soles in mid-game stopped us from taking the hard-fought victory.

We hugged each other in exhilaration. So this is how winning feels like. We are CHAMPIONS!

We arrived as wide-eyed tourney newbies. We went home as Level 6 champions. And I really could not have done it without Paolo.

He busted his ass out there by chasing the shuttle as diligently as he could, while I mostly remained at the back court for defense and an occasional attack. He has a wider range of shots than I do, too---I'd be in hot water if I tried any of his net play so I'm content with power shots.

We talked about joining future Accenture Badminton Club tournaments, notably the ABC Cup this December. By then we'd have to improve our game---more so for me than for him. But as early as now, I'm sure we won't have any problems working with each other.

We're best partners.

Thanks, Lin Dan.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Because I'm a hopeless geek...

This is the first YouTube clip I'm posting on my blog, and it's all about the Gundam experience. Funny how this huge empire of merhandising started on April 7, 1979, with a young boy called Amuro Ray and his overwhelming curiosity.

It's also fitting that a remix of the original Gundam opening theme "Tobe! Gandamu!" is used for this clip, showcasing most of the protagonist mecha all through the years.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Something to be happy about

Despite all the moping, depression and heartache I endure, today certainly gave me a little something to smile about.

As usual, after singing at the mass I zipped to Power Play for badminton with Paolo, Randolph and Karlo. Before going there, though, I picked up Gracey along the way. Little did I know I would be acting out the same part as that British tour driver we met from Orange County back from our 2005 California vacation. Since Gracey told me about her knack for getting lost in Manila, I began spouting off street names and landmarks just in case she had to commute to somewhere.

My right ankle and left knee were in some pain and fouling up my game, but I managed to enjoy myself at the courts, despite not moving around as well as I wanted to. It was fun losing myself in the game, with friends to laugh our asses off with.

With Randolph and his girlfriend splitting early, the rest of us decided to head on to Robinsons Place Manila to have dinner and watch "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer." To my peepers at least, this is a lot better than the first Fantastic Four movie because it's very well-balanced. The Silver Surfer a.k.a. Norrin Radd kicks major ass, too.

Paolo and Karlo split from us when the movie ended. I brought Gracey back to Guadalupe, where I served as tour guide once again because I drove back via a different route.

I certainly had fun. This seemingly negated all of the loneliness and depression I was feeling the whole week. It's only a pity it had to end, but man, what a day.

Someone told me I could never be friends with people from work. Today was proof to the contrary. Thanks, guys.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Those magic words

I've never seen "Bridget Jones' Diary," nor have I ever read it in its full form (bits and pieces, yeah), but one line in that movie/novel has me currently stupefied by its depth of meaning.

"I like you. Just the way you are."

Think about it. It isn't as abused as the dreaded "I love you" yet has so much more "meat" to it. It also takes guts and a heckuvalot of conviction to say this and mean every word. Too many times, we say we love someone when we're actually in love with who we want that person to be.

And I've been guilty of that too.

I've put so much stock in what I wanted some people to become that too often I've failed to see and enjoy them as how they are. With me as transparent as glass, the frustration is so very obvious and it turns people off. Ultimately, the only people I get to appreciate as themselves are the few that stay long enough with me to tolerate my disappointments with them.

As much as I'm looking for someone to whisper those magic words in my ear, I should also be practicing its essence in my everyday life. I should learn how to let go of the iron grip of my expectations and simply let others be.

Which leads me to the second set of magic words.

"Live simply so that others may simply live."

Monday, June 11, 2007

The trouble with being different is...

"...despite every positive aspect, it's all too easy to highlight something negative."

Autocar UK wrote this on their road test of the Mazda RX-8 around four years ago. The RX-8 is a convention-bending car: it's a coupe but comes with four doors, has no B-pillar, seats four people, and to date is the only production car powered by a Wankel rotary engine.

So what are the negatives? Well, no B-pillar means its bodyshell tends to flex more than its competitors, which detracts from ultimate handling. And while the twin-rotor Wankel develops 228 BHP from 1.3 liters of displacement, it's got precious little torque, requires frequent oil changes...and let's face it, rotary engines were never fuel-economy champions.

The same can be said of "Turn-A Gundam," which I finished watching just this morning. Gundam as an anime franchise is known as a space war opera with cool-looking giant robots and lots of action. Turn-A doesn't fit in this mold at all.

A post-apocalyptic story with great emphasis on surviving with 20th-century technology and peace negotiations between the Earth and the Moon, it's the most akin to a Hayao Miyazaki movie out of all the Gundam TV series. Let's face it, you don't expect hulking robots to act as bridges and save cows---oh no, you'd expect them to beat the mechanical crap out of each other. And speaking of robots, the mobile suits in Turn-A are as far removed from a traditional Gundam as they come, as they were designed by American Syd Mead of "Blade Runner" fame. Mead's design of the Turn-A Gundam has a distinctive upturned crescent beard---enough to have Gundam fans crying sacrilege.

The tradition set by other Gundam series prevents others from appreciating "Turn-A Gundam" on its own merits. Yes, it's almost Miyazaki-like in pace and tone; that doesn't mean it's a bad series. If anything, "Turn-A" is the series that places the most emphasis on the characters---from front-line soldiers to the civilians to the politicians behind the conflict. It certainly drags at first, and its weirdness won't endear it to many, but "Turn-A Gundam" is proof that the franchise was at one point a human story, not simply a tool to sell kits and merchandise.

I wonder if the same rule applies to me. I wonder if I am so different from other people that they don't even bother to look for anything positive; all they see is the usual unfavorable first impression I make.

Friday, June 08, 2007


Lately I've come down with a severe case of the mopes.

I feel I don't really belong anywhere. While that's nothing new, I'm alarmed that I'm still feeling this way at this point in my life, where I'm no longer an adolescent nor a student. No, this had to linger until I became your present-day salaryman, and I feel stupid melting with self-loathing in my cubicle while I see and hear people enjoying everyone else's company.

I guess I'm too much of a perfectionist. I have such high expectations that I easily get disappointed when things don't go as planned. It's funny how I don't like being with my family because I don't want to hear any nitpicking, but here I am dragging it along with me. Given that, it's probably no surprise why very few people actually like being with me.

Times like these, I feel how hard it is to be an adult. Bill Gates was correct, no one cares about your self-esteem...especially not your colleagues. I remember one of my old high school teachers telling me I was in such a hurry to grow up. Now I feel as if things are passing too quickly for me to catch up, as if everyone's in top gear on the unrestricted autobahn while I'm hesitantly driving with a learner permit. And I'm scared.

I want to talk to the few people I can truly call my friends, but it feels like I'm wasting their time. They've got better things to do than listen to me whine...or so I thought.

Cher and I had a chat after what seems like months. It's amazing how someone you've never met can make you feel so good about yourself, just because of the sheer belief and faith that you are a good person. She managed to do just that, and I am very grateful.

Everyone's scared, she told me, you're not the only one. There are simply too many uncertainties. I told her everything that was on my mind, all the loneliness, bitterness and the things I kept from everyone else for fear of further rejection, and it felt good to finally have someone to talk to.

One day within this year, I will visit her. Now that I'm working that shouldn't be such a problem. Thanks, fwend, for four wonderful years.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Now that I'm not broke...

Just as I was trying my best efforts not to spend, along comes my dear old Dad with a couple issues of T3 magazine.


I have him to thank for ditching the Nokia 5300 and having a new interest in a different phone: the Nokia 6300. My friend Jared actually already has not one but two of the things, which he brought with him on our last night out. Sleek, slender, simple and sonically inclined---what's not to like? Probably just the non-standard 2.5mm headphone jack, I guess. There's an adaptor here somewhere...

I was also poring over the digital music player section too.

Sheesh. Not a penny spent and I'm feeling guilty already.

"It's so damn hard to give you up"

This separation is killing me, you say
I should've thought that before I did what I have done
So easier to put the blame on you
I should've looked inside of me
But it's all in vain as I try to explain, she pulls away

We could've been more
Could we ever have these feelings again?
We should've been more
Maybe in time we'll realize that maybe
Fate reveals the remedies
Making it feel like it could be like the first time

Still the vision on my mind
'Cause now I realize it's so damn hard to give you up
No way out of this hole, can we ever have us back again?
Let's not start and put the blame part away
Can you honestly say that you can see me with another one?
Another one, another chance with you
I want more, I want more, I want more...

We could've been more
Could we ever have these feelings again?
We should've been more
Maybe in time we'll realize that maybe
Fate reveals the remedies
Making it feel like it will be like the first time

Regretting it now, can fate reveal to me?
The questions to why?
Reveal the remedy

Could've been more, should've been more
Maybe in time we'll realize that maybe
Fate reveals the remedies
Fate reveals the remedies
Fate reveals the remedies
Making it feel like it will be like the first time
Just like the first time
Just like the first time

- Urbandub, "Reveal the Remedy"

Not so charming.

Everybody has their own way of charming people. You, you've got your wit.

So said my friend Gracey.

Apparently my "charms" are all but lost on my colleagues. I don't know if they're too pedestrian to appreciate what wit I have, or if I'm too far removed from them to understand that what I have to say is actually supposed to be funny. Either way, there's got to be truth in both, and so I give up. They're good to work with, but work is work.

What's important is I have found my comfort zone, thanks to Celine and PJ. I don't want to get out of it, no matter how evanescent the people in it may seem.

Yes, work is work and I have to remember I have a life outside of it. I have to see my old friends more often.

Denise...if you're reading this, I miss you a lot. Take care, and I'd love to ask you out next week.