Thursday, July 28, 2016

Substantialreads: Insubstantialreads

At least I made it to the second half of the year before falling back on comics. And at least it's another comic writer being a smart-arse, weaving a dense interdimensional web that he apparently genuinely believes was dictated to him by beings from another realm during a magickal trance, so it shouldn't be so much light reading as perplexing and off-putting. We can only hope.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Penelope: A confessional memoir

The following is a true story that I have to get off my chest.

It's up to you whether you think it's an actual experience from my life or the authentic transcript of a dream I just had, fuelled by reading some messed-up horror stories, listening to a radio discussion about dreams and an undigested bit of beef fajita.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Be my less rubbish neighbour? Only ₱3,000,000!* (US$63,458.49) [*House not included]

It's only dawned on me recently that the relaxing nature surrounding my new house (built on land that was previously part of that relaxing nature before we destroyed it) isn't going to last forever.

As soon as some schmuck buys up that 1,000-square-metre lot for the asking price of 3,000,000 pesos (USD 63,458.49 / GBP 47,720.23 / AUD 83,441.47, will consider other nationalities), I'm going to be stuck looking at whatever unregulated concrete and rusty-roofed monstrosity they decide to build on it (and presumably listening to their annoying kids and karaoke and breathing in their burning trash fumes) for as many years as my patience with this place lasts out.

If you would make a less rubbish neighbour than that (obviously things are flawless over on this side) and you're looking for land for sale in Davao City, please leave a comment.

(Maybe I should be putting those seven years of SEO sales writing experience to practical use now that it might finally be useful? No, that's too much like work. A sarcastic Blogger post should do it. Come on, I took out the references to owning a little piece of Hell, it's not like I have no restraint).

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Why do your British charity shop donations end up on sale for profit in the Philippines?

I'll clarify at the onset that I don't know the answer to that question... I was actually kind of hoping you might?

I was always a fan of the charity shop institution in my native land. I can't think of a better example of a win-win situation than getting to feel good about throwing your old clothes into a charity-branded skip rather than a regular bin before heading to the shop in person to sift through dog-eared paperbacks and buy 12" LPs you lack the equipment to play but imagine would look great on your dorm walls.

I haven't seen those shops here in the Philippines, maybe because people aren't stupid and have seen what happens when other countries have made generous donations to help them in their times of need. It wouldn't fill me with confidence in the chain of affluence either.

That doesn't mean I miss out entirely though, as I can still get my fix of three-years-out-of-date celebrity Christmas market biographies by heading to my local for-profit used book shops. Some of them still include the Help the Aged etc. stamps and pamphlets inside for added authenticity!

I can only hope that some kind of favourable donation took place on these books' journeys from a modest not-for-profit shop run by volunteers to a branded mall bookshop whose profits are most certainly not going to a deserving cause.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Substantialreads: Djune

Growing up, my brother was the household Dune fan, and you don't need two of those. I preferred the less time-intensive role of household Hitchhiker's fan, those books are much thinner.

I already know much of what happens in Dune - the top end of the saga at least - thanks to my brother's enthusiastic prattling, a famously inept film adaptation I never sat all the way through, a low-budget TV miniseries I did and a succinct musical synopsis by Iron Maiden, but maybe I'll get more out of it now that I'm no longer too young and pre-undergraduate to recognise the obvious allegories about them Catholics and them Muslims.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Ranking the Manowar albums, even though it's 2016 and I'm 30 years old

"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things"
- 1 Corinthians 13:11
"May your sword stay wet, like a young girl in her prime"
- Manowar, 'Hail and Kill'

If it's not an arrogant assertion, I'm fairly sure I hit maturity this year. There weren't any physical signs, like there were for that other substantial transition (I didn't spontaneously sprout any hair this time), but there were more subtle indicators.

Settling down in a physical, literally concrete way rather than merely being anchored by flimsy concepts like "love" and "contracts." Deciding that I might actually be prepared to be 50% responsible for a human life after all (still, give it a couple of years). Looking at a multipack of Fudgee bars in the fridge and having no desire whatsoever to cram that sickly goop into my mouth. Noticing Manowar in my music library and realising I was never, ever in the mood for non-ironically self-aggrandising battle hymns any more.

Manowar are a hilarious band, especially when you read enough interviews to finally realise they're 100% serious about the whole metal warriors shtick and lack the self-awareness to realise that posing in their underwear for a greased-up album photoshoot might not be received as intended. Their terminally cocky anthems and moronic lyrics are fun to play for a laugh, but if you're enough of a classic metal snob to accidentally discover the genuine merits in their early work, and realise you're duty-bound to defend them as classics of the genre, it can get a bit embarrassing.

But I'm done with the lot of them now. These days I don't listen to much of anything with lyrics, cheesy or otherwise, and all that shouting and guitar soloing is much too energetic for an old man of 30. So before I triumphantly delete these album folders to make space for boring symphonies and non-ish ambience, let's give them the Viking funerals they deserve - join me as I blow my speakers to the rousing battle cries of the Metal Kings! (And stream the later stuff on YouTube because I don't have it. I may have shit taste, but I still have some standards).

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Dream journal: Harsh reality edition

Who needs escapist fantasies when you can conjure imaginative dreamscapes even more depressing than the real world? Not all of these nocturnal sojourns follow that theme, but enough of them bloody do.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Substantialreads: Silent Disco

Time for some non-fiction. But it's not like I was going to read anything useful. Bachelor of Arts here.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Substantialreads: Space Chicks

It's not like I haven't read sci-fi by women before. This isn't an apology or amends, it's just me clutching at a theme for the month that doesn't involve cracking open a dreary tetraology.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Practical and less practical solutions for the Philippines power crisis

Image/joke: Pappy's

It's summertime in the Philippines, when temperatures take a sadistic spike from what you assumed was already summer and the electricity company takes away your fans, air conditioning and refrigerator power when you need them most. As well as energy for all those other appliances and devices you've foolishly allowed to become integral to your professional and personal life, rather than treating as luxuries that can be arbitrarily recalled.

This is already my third straight year of dealing with summer power out(r)ages, and while I'm no less bitter or more understanding about having my rightfully paid-for power taken away for several hours every day at random times for months on end (sort it out, monopoly electricity provider - you have all of our money), I've got better at handling the annual crisis and keeping it from completely destroying my career, comfort and sanity.

And it turns out I was being unfair to the authorities, who have finally taken an active stance towards resolving the crisis now that it's started to affect the country's main international gateway and become a source of embarrassment in front of other nations, rather than something that just ruins the lives of locals. Who gives a shit about the proles?

I just had to share this eye-bulging article from the Philippine Star, which tells you everything you need to know about how this crisis (and crises generally) is being handled. I swear the following excerpts have been copy-pasted verbatim, it's not a satire site, and this was posted a full week after April 1st. You'll naturally want to check the link to confirm its authenticity. Ready? Here goes:

"With the cause of a five-hour blackout still unknown, an official of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 has urged NAIA-3 authorities to consult a feng shui expert or geomancer to take away the “bad luck” that officials blamed for the problems that have hampered operations in the facility."

"The official said that the feng shui expert could identify what could be wrong with the building’s design and even exorcise the terminal of “evil spirits” with rituals to appease these spirits."