Laugh Tracks

Over lunch, an officemate commented that this is just like Rwanda, upon which I disagreed, because the motivation, if you can call it that, behind the inhuman massacre that took place in Maguindanao bears greater resemblance to the terrorism that swept through Uganda in the 70s and is still part of the status quo in Zimbabwe. That said, we know that politicide is nothing new. But that’s no cause to shrug it off or make lighthearted cracks about what recently happened in Maguindanao.

We’re having an early Christmas sale at the office, and yesterday I made a mistake while tallying someone’s receipt. Anyway, guy goes: “You should be working for the Ampatuan local government.” or something like that. Something really stupid that compared my shitty math skills with an act of terror committed by a local government unit under threat from the opposition. But it was meant as a lighthearted jab that also testified to “knowledge” of current events. Fun, right? But of course it’s not okay, even as a joke between friends.

Aside from stating the obvious, that you should not joke about it because of the expense on human life, the inhumanity, and the impunity behind the act, joking about it creates excuses for its existence. It’s not as good as allowing brutality on this scale to happen, but it’s getting there. It’s along that range of acceptance and resignation. You’re fine with it, now let’s move on and write it into the script of some sitcom.

I once had a former officemate forward me a joke that began with
RAPIST: Di ko kailangan ng tulong, kaya ko ‘tong mag-isa!
BABAE: Ah talaga? WAG NA! WAG NA!

I texted back with, “Haha rape is funny.” She answered with an invite to her wedding. A grown woman forwarded me a rape joke, did not get what was wrong with that picture and wanted me to show my face at her wedding later that week. What kind of world do we live in where we can add laugh tracks to rape sequences, shrug off impunity, and go about with our daily lives as long as nothing’s happening to us. I mean, what’s the big deal about rape? What’s the big deal about murder? It happens everyday anyway, it could happen to anyone.

The question is how far from us does brutality have to occur before we can recognize what one person’s murder has to do with the rest of society. How far and how often before it all breaks under the weight of the repercussions of ignorance and insensitivity. Africa was far enough for you to feel like politicide has nothing to do with you. How about Ilocos? Is Ilocos far enough? Serbia was far enough to remove yourself from the brutal realities of genocide. But even then, these were events that would never find themselves written into monologues of late night talk show hosts.

A lot has been written on the “Filipino spirit” and on our so-called capacity to grin and bear things, to smile through even the toughest hurdles. What’s so great about that, especially in cases where smiling doesn’t solve anything.

No More Herpes Jokes

For the past few days, my body’s been playing the gracious host to several ailments. Both my top and bottom halves as well as my face are showing different degrees of infection which have been debilitating at worst and uncomfortable at best. I have a fever razing my upper half, stupid fucking menstrual cramps in my girl pipes, and a marble-sized boil on my face.

The most obvious of course is on my face–I mean it’s on my face for crying out loud. My mom told me to get it checked immediately because it could be some form of face-eating bacteria. Uh, yeah…Thanks mom. I’m pretty sure it’s not a face-eating bacteria. But when I went to see my aunt, who’s a derm, the other day, she was all relieved that “Oh thank god it’s not herpes!” Note to self: no more herpes jokes (there goes a third of my sense of humor). Well, at least it’s not herpes. What it is though is a zit that got infected and turned into a comically large boil that can only be flushed out with oral antibiotics. Yay.

Now, the worst part is it’s right beside my lower lip. Which means I can feel it on the inside making it hurt to talk, eat, and brush my teeth. Since eating and brushing my teeth go hand in hand, those two are easily stricken from the equation. Talking on the other hand has been extra hard because I. just. can’t. It hurts. And because it hurts to open my mouth too wide, I end up mumbling. When one mumbles, one is asked to repeat oneself, and this annoys the crap out of me. No, I will not repeat what I just said, instead I will yell at you to “(Please) GET OUT OF MY ROOM!” Which has since been truncated to “GO AWAY.” I’m fucking possessed. And to think I just saw Paranormal activity recently. Whoops. Spoiler.

I’ve also been having weird and upsetting dreams, the weirdest of which involved body bags being tossed out of my neighbors’ houses as I ran through the block in my underwear, then when I get home I already know it’s because there are murderers on the prowl. We, however, are in luck because we know it’s Kris Aquino they want; but before we can get our hands on Kris Aquino, they (the murderers) are already climbing over our wall. So I lock myself and my sister and Budi into my mom’s room, and when we come out at daybeak, Kris Aquino’s in the living room with this whole entourage, and she’s a lot skinnier in the flesh, so I guess the camera does add ten pounds and then some? Weird. They don’t kill her though, she just sits there looking bored while the gang of murderers looks on, positively delighted to be in her presence.

Anyway, so since I’ve been sick, I’ve gone three days without solid food, missed a training session at work, finished my fuckload of excel files (effectively killing whatever libido I had left), finished The Pretenders which was the first on my “Alice Needs to Read More Classics to Improve her Life…Somehow” list, and ingested at least 3 liters of carrot juice, 2 kilos of oranges, and 2 liters of pineapple juice.

There’s good news here though. The other side of my face–the side that isn’t infested with flesh-eating bacteria–looks great.


Lately, I’ve been spending way too much time in my head; and by lately, we’re talking since graduation with some really hardcore episodes starting in mid-July.
I can’t reiterate enough how this is way too much time.

Spending time in one’s head conjures up images of the brooding thinker, “still waters run deep” said some very cunning but very simple minded creature. Not these waters. Most of the time I’m just thinking of stupid things to put on t-shirts. “A chimp in a tuxedo…try a chimp in a tuxedo ON A BIKE…make it A UNICYCLE…make it a PURPLE CHIMP.”

I am a genius. I slay myself.

The sad fact about those last two sentences is that the only parts that are true are “I” and “myself”. I make myself laugh. A lot. While it has endowed me with a healthy sense of humor, unfortunately it also makes me look a little crazy. A lot. But I am a firm believer and keeper of the “If you can’t take a joke, get the fuck out of my house,” rule so I don’t think there’s anything to fix here. Appearances of sanity are optional; your sense of humor: mandatory.

This is all well and good, but we’re not just talking laughter, we’re talking about the whole range of human emotions that put whatever impressions I wanted to put up of being a rational and sane human being at stake. Case in point: I’m about to get in the elevator at work, when our marketing head comes up to join me in line. Our marketing head is wearing an ID strap with the Discovery Channel logo and “The World is Just Awesome” emblazoned along the length of it. I love the discovery channel. Love love love. It’s tragic that the channel doesn’t come in human form because I WOULD marry it, in a heartbeat. So my first reaction is delight.

“I love the Discovery Channel!” I exclaim way too loudly. Then I clap. My first week at work: it is legendary. Then I tell our marketing guy about how I would cry whenever I’d see the old commercial, the one with the song, “I love tornadoes, I love the dirty things, I love hot magma, I love Egyptian kings! I love the whole world! It’s such a crazy place, boomti-yaya boomti-yaya boomti-yaya boomti-yaya…” He grins (with what I can only recognize as) apologetically. But I don’t recognize that right away, instead I’m already singing the song in my head. “boomti-yaya, boomti-yaya, boomti-yaya, boomti-yaya”…and I start to tear up. What? It’s a beautiful commercial! Oh. My. God. Hormones.

“Excuse me, please.” I bury my face in the corner and pretend there’s something in my eye. That ought to do the trick.

Less Envy, More Fanmail: WILL BRYANT

on Music, Giddiness, and Exhaustion

Will “Mr. Fancy Pants” Bryant makes stuff because he gets sad if he doesn’t; which is a sentiment shared by most creative types but is rarely articulated as frankly and unpretentiously. By making stuff, Bryant’s work has evolved from doodles into graphic design work for big names like the Polyphonic Spree and Girl Talk (in my book these are big names) and posters for SXSW.

I’ve been looking for a good reason to post something about Animal Collective because 2009 just wouldn’t be complete without an entry involving them or Merriweather. The opportunity just hasn’t come up because I haven’t obsessed over their stuff in the last few months. 2009 has been an amazing year for music and my playlists have been inundated with good new stuff practically every other day. Thankfully, Will Bryant also loves Animal Collective so I don’t have to set aside my own entry for waxing on about this amazing Baltimore based quartet/trio. Or maybe I will anyway, I don’t know yet.

Continue reading “Less Envy, More Fanmail: WILL BRYANT”