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.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Hontou no Nihon-ryori ramen da!

The week I was off work, Paolo Campos and his dad took me along to Makati Cinema Square with their shopping and errands. Our afternoon stopover was a rather run-down place called "Shinjuku." What the place lacked in glamour, it more than made up for with its authentic Japanese ramen---just about the most authentic Japanese I've eaten, even besting Jipan in Glorietta 4. Both establishments are owned and managed by real Japanese guys, not some gaijin who corrupts the process, taste and ingredients to suit local palates.

Just take a look at that countertop---exactly how you'd imagine a real-life ramen stand is in Japan. I'm planning to take Denise there for our next dinner date.

Liham para kay Cher

Hi. Salamat at nagawa mong sabihin sa akin ang saloobin mo.

Hindi ako magkukunwaring hindi ako nagalit sa iyo. Pero tandang-tanda ko ang una kong naramdaman nung nag-text ka sa akin nung ika-4 ng Enero ang matinding pagkalungkot. Ang dating sa akin ng ginawa mo, parang tinulak mo lang ako palayo kung kailan ginawa ko na ang lahat para lang puntahan ka sa iyong kaarawan. Kaya ako unti-unting nagalit. Masakit ang ginawa mo kasi kaibigan kita, matagal na. Naisip ko natural lang na magkita na rin tayo. Sana man lang sinabi mo nang maaga na hwag na lang ako tumuloy.

Sinabi mo na, tao lamang ako, nagkakamali rin, pikunin at nadadala ng emosyon. Di ako santo o mabuting tao, alam mo na iyon. Madalas akong mabulol kahit sa pag-Inggles. Kaya walang dahilan para ilagay mo ako sa pedestal. Ewan ko kung pwede mo pang bawiin ang ginawa mong pag-angat sa akin sa pedestal, nasa iyo na iyon.

Ikaw lang naman ang pupuntahan ko eh. Eh ano ngayon kung mabagot ako sa Isabel tulad ng sinasabi mo? Problema ko na iyon. Ang mahalaga lang sa akin, magkita tayo at magkasamang magdiwang ng iyong kaarawan. Wala na akong iba pang hangarin.

Kaya inis na inis ako nung sinabi mong pupunta kang Cebu. Di na ako tumuloy sa Isabel kasi wala na akong pupuntahan doon kung wala ka, at mas lalo akong walang alam tungkol sa Cebu kundi ang opisina namin doon. Sa Isabel kahit papaano may address na akong pupuntahan.

Alam mo...hindi ka bobo, hindi ka tanga, hindi ka kahiya-hiya kung ihahambing ka sa akin. Sana ipasok mo na sa kukorte mo iyan. May mga magagawa ka na hanggang sa panaginip ko lang magagaya. Eh ano ngayon kung hindi ka umabot sa inaasahan ng ibang tao sa iyo? Tao ka lang, hindi diyosa. Kung ginawa mo ang lahat para mapasaya ang ibang tao, mamamatay ka nang maaga at nang malungkot. Ang nag-iisang taong kailangan mong pasayahin ay ang iyong sarili. Alam ko iyan kasi naranasan ko na rin iyan at araw-araw kong kalaban ang dwende sa utak kong nagsasabing palagi akong sawi at talunan.

Wala akong inasahan sa iyo. Ang ginusto ko lang makilala ka bilang ikaw. Sana ganoon din ang naging tingin mo sa akin---paano na lang kaya kung hindi ako yung taong naisip mong sobrang galing at kahanga-hanga?

Alam mo pareho tayo ng problema. Masyado tayong nag-iisip, kaya bago pa natin gawin ang gusto nating gawin, natalo na tayo. Masyadong maikli ang buhay para umiral ang takot at hiya. Kaya mo naman iyang itabi eh. Hindi ka natakot nung nag-iwan ka ng comment sa blog ko apat na taon na ang nakalilipas di ba? Walang pinagkaiba ito sa pakikipag-chat natin o sa binalak kong pagkikita natin sa Leyte.

Aaminin ko, habang sinusulat ko ang email na ito nawawala na ang galit ko sa iyo. Hihintayin na lang kitang gumawa ng unang hakbang para mawala ang takot mo sa akin. Ito na siguro ang hinihintay mong "pag-iintindi" na gusto mo mula sa akin. Makikita mo rin balang araw na kailangan mong kalasin ang pedestal na ginawa mo para sa akin. At makikita mo rin, sana, balang araw, na magagawa mo ang lahat ng kaya mong gawin...basta naisip mong kaya mo.

Mag-iingat ka.

JM, isang hamak na tao.

PS. Buksan mo na ang regalo. Sige na. Kung hindi mo yan bubuksan, eh di sino pa? Di mo rin pwede ibigay iyan sa iba dahil may nakasulat na sa loob na para sa iyo lamang.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A flat tire and a folded-up note

As usual, I pulled up to a parking slot at 7:00 am this morning at the lower ground floor of my building. As I maneuvered the rear of the Jazz into place and disembarked, I noticed the blue ES Civic in the slot to my left had its right rear tire gone flat.

Tearing a page off the notebook that serves as my fuel consumption journal, I scribbled a note to let the owner know of the puncture, and left the byline "A Concerned Motorist." I pinned it under one of the Civic's wipers before walking to the elevator lobby.

I pretty much forgot about the note for the rest of the day, until I walked back to my car twelve hours later. The blue ES had gone, but the folded-up note was now pinned under my Jazz's wiper...with a reply in cursive writing.

Thank you for letting me know - got a taxi driver to change tires for me - :)
A. Cortez, Accenture 8F

Seven things that make me unique

Joy tagged me in the hope of grilling me for seven strange things about myself. This is just about the first time I've attempted any memes like this...and I didn't know they had rules!

Speaking of rules, here they are...
1. Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.

2. Share seven random and/or weird facts about yourself.

3. Tag seven random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.

4. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Here goes nothing...

1. My left foot is almost a half-size larger than my right.

2. There are a lot of Pinoy foods I simply won't eat. Balut, dinuguan, isaw, sinigang sa bayabas...considering our "exotic" cuisine I'm probably not suited to join "Fear Factor."

3. I've contributed some works for a few local newspapers since I was in seventh grade, but I've never been compensated for any of them.

4. My first and only drag on a cigarette happened when I was three years old. Even without my scarred lungs, I would have sworn them off.

5. For the longest time I've been afraid of using credit cards. It's only recently that I learned to trust in my own financial discipline.

6. Compared to most people I need a lot of sleep, but I seem to be predisposed to abhor it.

7. I really, really hate the cold.

Now I call upon the following to bare their idiosyncrasies: Ria, Cara, Kathy, Beia, Richie, Ryan and Chrissa.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Down the hatch!

My mom and I fetched a vacationing Auntie Carole from the airport at midnight, and so we took my dad's Trooper to fit all her heavy, bulky luggage. Being the SUV-hater that I usually am, I wondered if we really had to contend with the Trooper's clumsiness and size just to get the job done. Even loading the heavy, bulky suitcases was a chore because of the Trooper's high load lip, and it wasn't even that roomy.

Taking advantage of a half-day off work, the moment I got home I hauled out Auntie Carole's bags and did a little test on my Jazz. How well will the little Honda swallow the bags without folding any of the back seats?

See the results for yourself.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Books I want to buy...

If you're familiar with the James Bond movie franchise, you'll know there's a running joke about Moneypenny's huge, huge crush on the famous 00-agent...and its awkward consequences. That's precisely why this tome got my attention. Imagine Moneypenny kicking ass normally reserved for her beloved James, with a woman's touch as she goes about it.

The premise has me sold already.

This is more of my traditional Asian-literature fare. Most Pinoys already know Takeshi Kitano as the guy behind the wacky 1980s Japanese game show "Takeshi's Castle," which is a cult hit here. But not many of the said Pinoys know that he's also an acclaimed director and actor under the alias "Beat Takeshi."

And now he's dabbled in writing. This is the first book I know that bears Kitano's byline. I wonder if it's as good as that last film of his I watched, "Zatoichi"?

By the way, I bumped into Cara at PowerBooks Alabang while browsing these. She looked pretty good. It was nice seeing her again.

Birth of an audiophile, part deux: Return to HCP!

Over the final days of December 2007, I decided to revisit the Honda Club of the Philippines forums after an absence of more than 18 months---purely on a whim. I had planned to just drop in and say hi to the few friends I made there in my years of being an active member.

Little did I know that I would end up staying again. I was surprised how warmly I was welcomed back into the fold, even by some people whom I didn't know very well. With the sheer number of newbies since I left, though, I felt like a newbie myself---having to start off from a clean-slate reputation.

Fast forward almost a month later and I end up going to the HCP Audio Get-Together (GT) for January at Automoville along Ortigas Ave.

Now a confession: In my previous three years in HCP I paid almost no attention to audio. I had my sights squarely on engine performance (but spent not one penny on it). Nowadays, however, I realize there's not much point in spending to raise your car's power output because of how clogged our streets are and how expensive fuel is. It would make much more sense to enjoy your stay in the gridlocked streets, so off I turned my attention to sonics.

I know next to nothing about car audio, though. This is why I found myself in Ortigas last night. I wanted to hear different brands of speakers and amps, and perhaps learn a thing or two about what I should look for in a high-quality setup.

I auditioned five cars, with varying amounts of expense and component brands. Two cars had Focal setups from different price levels, while Hertz, DLS and Polk Audio had one representative each. All of them blew me away, to be honest, but to my ears the Hertz units offered maximum bang for my meager buck, so that's what I'll likely save up for. Thanks to fellow KotseAudioClub members Pooch and Elco, I also learned a lot about sound staging, imaging and installation. Perhaps it was the optimized aiming of the component speakers, but I could now hear cymbals crashing on the left, vocals in the center and the keyboards over to the right---nuances I could never notice in the Jazz's stock speakers.

With all the fine automobiles and sound setups on hand there, it was a huge shame I didn't get to listen to more of them as I left close to midnight. That said, I can't wait for next month's audio GT.

And truth be told, it does feel good to be back.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Thank God for this particular Friday

I awaited with bated breath the result of the test.

I am glad to say I am still as unblemished as I was when I was born.

I realize just how stupid I was last year when I took my chances just to feel good. This is one of those things that sadly cannot be considered safe per se. You can only be safer.

Had it not been for you, I would never have given myself a damn. In times like these, I am so grateful that you are my girl best friend.

Thank you, Den.

Monday, January 14, 2008

What does your name mean?

I thought I'd try this out also after seeing a number of my friends get theirs. I think I should use my full name and my nickname just to be sure.

What JM Means

You are fair, honest, and logical. You are a natural leader, and people respect you.
You never give up, and you will succeed... even if it takes you a hundred tries.
You are rational enough to see every part of a problem. You are great at giving other people advice.

You are confident, self assured, and capable. You are not easily intimidated.
You master any and all skills easily. You don't have to work hard for what you want.
You make your life out to be exactly how you want it. And you'll knock down anyone who gets in your way!

What Juan Miguel Means

You are fair, honest, and logical. You are a natural leader, and people respect you.
You never give up, and you will succeed... even if it takes you a hundred tries.
You are rational enough to see every part of a problem. You are great at giving other people advice.

You are a very lucky person. Things just always seem to go your way.
And because you're so lucky, you don't really have a lot of worries. You just hope for the best in life.
You're sometimes a little guilty of being greedy. Spread your luck around a little to people who need it.

You are usually the best at everything ... you strive for perfection.
You are confident, authoritative, and aggressive.
You have the classic "Type A" personality.

You are very intuitive and wise. You understand the world better than most people.
You also have a very active imagination. You often get carried away with your thoughts.
You are prone to a little paranoia and jealousy. You sometimes go overboard in interpreting signals.

You are confident, self assured, and capable. You are not easily intimidated.
You master any and all skills easily. You don't have to work hard for what you want.
You make your life out to be exactly how you want it. And you'll knock down anyone who gets in your way!

You tend to be pretty tightly wound. It's easy to get you excited... which can be a good or bad thing.
You have a lot of enthusiasm, but it fades rather quickly. You don't stick with any one thing for very long.
You have the drive to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. Your biggest problem is making sure you finish the projects you start.

You are deeply philosophical and thoughtful. You tend to analyze every aspect of your life.
You are intuitive, brilliant, and quite introverted. You value your time alone.
Often times, you are grumpy with other people. You don't appreciate them trying to interfere in your affairs.

You are friendly, charming, and warm. You get along with almost everyone.
You work hard not to rock the boat. Your easy going attitude brings people together.
At times, you can be a little flaky and irresponsible. But for the important things, you pull it together.

You are relaxed, chill, and very likely to go with the flow.
You are light hearted and accepting. You don't get worked up easily.
Well adjusted and incredibly happy, many people wonder what your secret to life is.

For some reason I'm not fully convinced, but I think they got me 80% right.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Hitching a ride, a game and a dinner

To cap off my week-long vacation leave, I spent a lot of time with my buddy Paolo Campos. Conveniently, he had arrived from his three-month post-graduation vacation in the US, and he invited me over for a few games of Forza Motorsport 2 on his brand-new Xbox 360.

Forza is just about the most realistic driving game I've ever tried. I had to relearn how to play using the Xbox 360's gamepad and how to drive using the game's physics. Driving there isn't as simple as just holding down buttons mindlessly; you have to feather your throttle and brake inputs and stay smooth throughout the course. Depending on your car's drivetrain and power characteristics, stabbing the throttle too hard too soon can cause your car to fishtail, while being clumsy with the brakes can send you straight to the barriers. It took me quite a while to get used to it, but on my second day I was driving pretty well already, cornering on part-throttle and making smooth entry with the brakes.

It wasn't all gameplay too. Yesterday we went to Greenhills, while today I hitched along with Pao and his dad while laughing along in their Pajero. They even brought me to Shinjuku, an authentic Japanese restaurant in Makati with the best gyoza dumplings in town, and their kakiage tempura udon is pretty damn good.

Not a bad way to cap off a week-long vacation, I reckon.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Date with Denise: January

Continuing our promise of having a date each month, my girl best friend Denise and I went out to CPK Glorietta a while ago for dinner. All we ordered were my mom's favorites, the Tuscan Hummus and their Mango Tandoori Chicken pizza, but we walked away stuffed.

Well okay, technically we missed one month (December) already due to the hullabaloo of the holidays, but that was excusable. I'm still glad she and I see each other to relax and just be ourselves. Den was glad she discovered some new foods and new music too, as she enjoyed listening to Incognito and the Brand New Heavies' brand of acid jazz on my Jazz.

I'll just let the pictures do the talking.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Bliss in a box

My friend Celine gave me something special as a belated Christmas present. She gave me a box of Royce Nama Chocolate Au Lait.

Now I'm a dark chocolate junkie, but this is just about the best milk chocolate I've ever had. The top is powdered chocolate and its scent just sticks to your fingers, while the mildly sweet, soft and chewy body has Cherry Marnier liqueur mixed in.

If you know anything about kanji or Chinese characters, you'll notice the one used to match the word "nama" means "star." The star of chocolate? As far as the milk variety goes, I have to agree.

I've been bummed out by a series of saddening and infuriating events, so the Royce box was well appreciated. Thanks, Cel!

After a long drought, a quiz

It's been a while since I last posted anything of this type. I tried this test.

Your view on yourself:

You are down-to-earth and people like you because you are so straightforward. You are an efficient problem solver because you will listen to both sides of an argument before making a decision that usually appeals to both parties.

The type of girlfriend/boyfriend you are looking for:

You like serious, smart and determined people. You don't judge a book by its cover, so good-looking people aren't necessarily your style. This makes you an attractive person in many people's eyes.

Your readiness to commit to a relationship:

You are ready to commit as soon as you meet the right person. And you believe you will pretty much know as soon as you might that person.

The seriousness of your love:

Your have very sensible tactics when approaching the opposite sex. In many ways people find your straightforwardness attractive, so you will find yourself with plenty of dates.

Your views on education

Education is less important than the real world out there, away from the classroom. Deep inside you want to start working, earning money and living on your own.

The right job for you:

You have many goals and want to achieve as much as you can. The jobs you enjoy are those that let you burn off your considerable excess energy.

How do you view success:

You are afraid of failure and scared to have a go at the career you would like to have in case you don't succeed. Don't give up when you haven't yet even started! Be courageous.

What are you most afraid of:

You are afraid of having no one to rely on in times of trouble. You don't ever want to be unable to take care of yourself. Independence is important to you.

Who is your true self:

You are mature, reasonable, honest and give good advice. People ask for your comments on all sorts of different issues. Sometimes you might find yourself in a dilemma when trapped with a problem, which your heart rather than your head needs to solve.

Enough is enough

I've just about had it with women. I'm sick of putting them on a pedestal, listening to them, trying to be extra nice to them...I want them to give me back the time and effort I wasted. If friendships and relationships are investments I'm damn sure I'm overdue on my return.

I'm sick of thinking about women.

Like my Tita Vik says, perhaps then they'd start coming...no pun intended.


If anyone of them wants me that fucking badly, I'll be working on my car.