Poor Paul

Today, I dug up my old, purple, 5th generation 16GB iPod nano — this Jurassic music artifact is still alive hurrah! — in one of my stuff-I-haven’t-used-in-years boxes. This was actually sold to me by my friend, Ahmad, at a very good deal. We met one rainy evening 3 (or 4?) years ago in a mall which, coincidentally, is just across where I’m living right now. Save from some minor scratches, I was delighted when I saw that the iPod was still in good condition and that it’s filled with lots and lots of good music. Ahmad is the vocalist of one of my favorite local bands, We Are Imaginary, so he’s got good taste. This pocket gadget helped me discover Vampire Weekend, Phoenix, and The Strokes, to name a few.

Yes, I tend to remember these small things. I wish I could do this for the more “important” adult stuff but I can’t. As I always say to my friends who are amazed at this accidental “talent”, “I tend to have a sharp memory for the unimportant stuff”.

Ok. Straying from my topic. Going back…

Cute how you tend to discover small ticks about yourself when you are not pressured by your everyday activities. Now that I’m on medical leave, I am more attentive to what I do outside of work. And one tick that I recently discovered is musical monotony. I listen to the same type of music day in and day out. Most of which are music from the 80s and the 90s. As such, I’m unable to discover new bands and genre on my own. It’s almost always a recommendation from a friend, a Facebook post, or an over hyped concert announcement (still on Facebook).

There’s nothing wrong with nostalgia; nostalgia is OK. But sometimes this same nostalgia is the one that keeps us from unearthing something good and new. This same nostalgia that makes us:

(1) wrinkle our noses at this techno-laden new generation music, tagging it as musical degradation 

(2) blurt that a certain type of music is dead

(3) arrogant enough to claim that our generation’s brand of music is so much better than what we have today

When in fact, these are not entirely true. We just need to have an open mind and a true appreciation of music to brush off this greater-than-thou attitude. Made me think of a certain scene in La la Land where Keith told Sebastian, the overly passionate jazz purist,

“How are you going to be a revolutionary if you’re such a traditionalist? You’re holding onto the past , but jazz is about the future”.

Ouch? Ouch!

So, throughout all these ramblings and what-nots, I would like to conclude this writing by saying that I should discover new music more. And not just limit my knowledge to what I already know by heart. I would also like to categorize how I listen to music daily just to keep me from my, as I’ve mentioned, musical monotony. This is what I have in mind:kirstene's guide to breakingmusical monotony

1

2

I will try to focus on only one artist or band per day, except if they only have one EP released and I’m already tired of listening to six songs by mid-day.

And since this was written in between the hours of Monday and Tuesday, I typed away with The xx’s  self-titled album for Brand New Mondays and We are Imaginary’s (formerly Your Imaginary Friends) One Dreamy Indeterminate Hum for Tagalog Tuesdays in the background.

Also, concluding my conclusion, I have decided to rename my Ipod from Lyla to Poor Paul as a reference to its color and Paul McCartney. Must love word plays, yes?

Is Monday Really That Manic? 

What is it with Monday that makes majority of us cringe? Is it because it’s the end of the weekend and signals the start of our usual stressful work week? 

I was about to relate this article to a song I heard last week on Spotify just to help me kick Monday in the ass. It’s called “I Don’t Like Mondays” by The Boomtown Rats. The song has a comic tune — the kind that you hear in children’s shows like Sesame Street. I actually had a vision of it being sung by a puppet. If you plan on finishing this, I urge you to listen to the song first: 

https://youtu.be/-Kobdb37Cwc

Playing it again today and reading about it (yes, I read about the songs that catch my attention), I found out that the song has a very dark background. 

It was inspired by a 1979 school shooting in San Diego. A crime committed by a 16-yo girl who doesn’t like Monday. How freaky. To be able to justify the monstrosity all because you hate this specific day. Now I’m thinking twice of having this song on my playlist and singing along with it. The equally freaky video doesn’t help either. 

Oh well. Will try to listen to a cheerier playlist to jumpstart my day and push this off my mind. 

Let’s all try not to hate Monday too much so it’ll be equally good to us. 

U to the ke to the lele

Yesterday, I attended my first ever ukulele night hosted by Ukulele Manila. Not as a player, but a mere spectator. I’ve always had this small fantasy of being this kick-ass musician in an alternate universe, but you and I both know that it’s never gonna happen. Nevertheless, I am very much of a music lover and watching and listening to legit musicians do their thing gives me the fulfillment of my otherwise ‘musical me’ delusions.

Going to a bar where you only know 2 out of almost a hundred people can be intimidating. But one thing I learned about going to these kind of gigs is, IT DOESN’T REALLY MATTER. The musical community is a cool and friendly lot, and Ukulele Manila is no exception. I remember smacking a guy’s arm, a total stranger, because I was laughing so hard at his antics directed to his friend. In another scenario, I would have gotten the stink eye. But in this, I just got a laugh in return.

What made it more awesome is the fact that it’s The Beatles Night. Who doesn’t love The Fab Four, really? Even if you were born yesterday, chances are you will still grow up surrounded by people who listen to and love their music.

The night ended with me and my friend, Val, contemplating on getting our own ukes. Not until last night, my knowledge of ukulele has been limited to that of Zooey Deschanel and her 1950’s singing, blunt bangs, doe-eyed and all, strumming this mini guitar thing. But after last night’s jamming session, I had a better appreciation for the instrument.

What more, my other friend, Ahmad, who also played some tracks last night was very much encouraging us to try it on our own. He said that UM is hosting free ukulele tutorials every Saturday around the BGC area, which is really cool, BTW. It not only give other people a venue to learn more about the instrument, it’s also a fun way of introducing the ukulele community to them.

If you have time to spare and want to learn something new, why not give it a try? Who knows, we might bump elbows there one Saturday. 🙂

FNS, YIF, and YSITV

I’m supposed to be working on my SoKor journal before it bites the dust and forever be a remnant of my undocumented memories but I can’t bring myself to. I’ve been bitten by the Friday Night Syndrome and all I wanna do is to laze around and wait for precious time to trickle.

On a positive note, I am thinking of going to YIF’s Your Silence is the Villain Single + MV Launching at Autonomy Bar tonight.

YSITV

It’s been a while since I’ve been to a bar, drinking my way through good music and interesting conversations. In an alternate universe I would have been a musician. A place where my guitar playing skills is not limited to strumming ‘When You Say Nothing At All’ and ‘Leaving on a Jet Plane’, my singing does not sound like a wailing cat, my stage presence and charm is not obscenely annoying or bordering on the boring, and my height does not require too much microphone stand adjustment.

Oh, yeah. I would have been a great musician in that alternate universe.

But I’m not. And the least I could do is to surround myself with people who are, indeed, good musicians in their own rights. If you have some free time to kill, drop by the gig. If you happen to spot me in the crowd, come on over and say hi. Maybe we can talk about something interesting other than the weather.

Perks of The Perks

I finally watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower yesterday and I must say that it is a very good adaptation of the novel. It could be confusing and, I refuse to say but I’m going to say it anyway, boring to others who have not read and liked the book. But for me, Stephen Chbosky and the rest of the cast did a wonderful job in immortalizing the story and the characters that I fell in love with.

The character of Charlie has been played well by Logan Lerman. He was able to portray the quirks, shyness, and awful charm of book Charlie, not to mention that he’s too cute to be unpopular. Or as Emma Watson’s character, Sam, pointed out in the movie, “misfit toy”. Although that quote was not really in the book, it was one of the good addition in the movie version. Sad to say, Emma still needs to work on her American accent more. I can still hear a lot of British hints here and there and she still couldn’t shake off her Hermione wiggly eyebrow acting. This got me quite confused why Hermione’s sporting a boho chic bob and hanging out with Muggles.  Haha! Among the major characters, Ezra Miller was the real scene stealer. He IS Patrick and he IS Nothing. Hands down! I can say with full confidence that among the non-fans of the book, he would be the most remarkable character of the movie. Patrick’s character is colorful and flamboyant. It’s really hard not to like him. And Ezra really put his acting skills up the notch to justify his character.

And then there’s Aunt Helen who was played by Melanie Lynskey. I was expecting her to be more heavy-set given the character background and depiction so I was surprised to see her playing Charlie’s favorite aunt. The whole character background was not given much in the movie so I guess it makes more sense. I guess they are trying to humanize Aunt Helen to make her more lovable despite the turnaround. Melanie sure has a very cute smile. It’s hard to get mad at her.

I got disappointed that the M*A*S*H story was not included, though. For me, that’s one delightful memory from Charlie’s past. The way his father cried over the last episode of MASH and Charlie caught him trying to hide in the kitchen. The father then said that that would he his and Charlie’s little secret. And from there, they developed a secret bond. There are actually a lot of good lines that the father said in the book. But in the movie, all the father did was put on his glasses, read newspapers, be pensieve, and look hot. Kate Walsh’s passive authoritative nature was not emphasized in the movie as well. I was looking for even a drop of one-liner that would make everyone shut up and obey her.

Nina Dobrev’s character as Charlie’s very pretty sister had a name: Candace. Same with the English teacher, Bill, who was given a surname: Mr. Anderson. He did, at least, delivered one of my favorite lines: We accept the love we think we deserve. Honestly, I would prefer that they stick with the whole secret letter thing, not bothering with the others’ names and surnames. For me, it was one of the major point of the novel anyway. Charlie’s anonymity and his constant search for someone whom he can honestly confide in given that he can’t do it with the people he actually knows at the beginning.

All the minor characters played their part really well, too. I especially like Mary Elizabeth played by Mae Whitman. She’s perfect for the Buddhist/punk/opinionated character whom Charlie dated for a while. She totally owns the side buzz cut that she sported in the movie which I can never imagine myself having.

As for the music, it was everything that I was expecting. They did replace Landslide with Heroes for the tunnel song but I didn’t really mind. Truth be told, I will feel more infinite raising my hands up Titanic-style while cruising to an empty tunnel in the middle of the night to an upbeat David Bowie song; wind in my hair, dress flapping and all. Don’t get me wrong. Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide is a lovely song but it was more of a close-your-eyes-and-smile-dreamily type.  Asleep by The Smiths has been mentioned far too many times in the movie, courtesy of Ezra Miller’s Patrick character. Actually good because it is a really amazing song and very apt with the movie’s theme. I liked how they incorporated a whole stanza of it while they’re trying to show a glimpse of what Charlie’s day-to-day life looks and feels like, pre-Patrick and Sam days.

Overall, I was happy of how the movie turned out. It might not gain a cult following as big as the novel itself but it sure did a good job in depicting a coming-of-age, teenage angst movie. There are extreme topics of drugs, sex, abuse, and depression but was portrayed in a whimsical and bitter-sweet manner; enough to make you reminisce on how your own high school life played out.

But then again, it would always be so much better watching the film if you have read the book. So grab a copy before watching. Or even after watching. If you happen to be disappointed with Chbosky’s directing skills, you will certainly not be with his writing. 😉

How To Amuse Yourself During PMS

It’s that time of the month once again when my hormones are at an all-time high. I’ve been dealing with this for quite some time now, irregular as it may. I should have been used to the symptoms: I’m bloated, in danger of a zit spritz, munching at anything that I set my eyes on (uh-oh!), and having the abominable mood swings.

And so, while I am anticipating this once-a-month-gender-specific-warzone-under, I have subjected myself into several activities that could favor my mood swings into the positive.

1. Watch re-runs of The Big Bang Theory. These bunch of nerds are really hilarious. They got me LOL-ing at 3am in the morning, prolly pestering my neighbors who are on the brink of REM. Re-watching the series made me question myself why I stopped watching in the middle of Season 3. Also, if I secretly want to be a nerd in the afterlife or in the near future.

2. Get greasy, unhealthy food delivered. Because I’m too lazy to cook and too lazy to even go out and buy myself a meal. I tried to convince myself (and it worked!) that this is just a one-time thing. That what I will gain from all these junk loading will soon be lost in all the cardio exercises that I will be doing in coming days. I am crossing my fingers hard on this hypothesis guesswork.

3. Fire up Itunes and have a music trip.  While at it, I do a variation of singalongs:  the loud, head-banging, rocker type; the I’m-lazy-singing-this-song-but-I’m-gonna-do-it-anyway hipster type; the perky, shoulder-shaking, body shaking, Gleek type; and the multi-talented musician who can alternately play various imaginary musical instruments type. Once I’ve felt that I’m being overly stupid, I just put on my earphones and enjoy the music like a normal person would.

4. Read the remaining chapters of Game of Thrones: Clash of Kings. Out loud. In British accent. Mimicking the tone and voice of the characters in the HBO TV series. Trying to give myself a pat in the back while silently mumbling, “Hey, you’re not going bonkers. It’s a good practice in improving your diction”. Yeah.

5. Have a flimsy relationship with my bed. Toss and turn. Curl up like a fetus while feigning sleep. Flipping my pillows from time to time to get the fresh, bulgy, non-sagging  side. Nothing beats the comfort of my own bed, really. But why flimsy? Because I need to constantly remind myself that this shouldn’t last long. And that I shouldn’t get too attached.

So there goes… It may seem that I’m tossing my day’s productivity out of the window. But then again, this is just a one-time thing. However, PMS happens every month so this might just be a beginning of a cycle.

Alright, I should stop myself now. Too many negative conjunctions going on in a single paragraph. I will have my PMS in peace.

Foster the People Live in Manila

Image taken from http://liveconcertmanila.blogspot.com

It’s official! Mark Foster, Cubbie Fink, and Mark Pontius are coming over to the Philippines on October 6. I’ve been a Foster the People fan ever since I heard a friend’s band do a cover of their song, Pumped Up Kicks. I loved it so much I even wrote about it in one of my earlier posts. Which led me to find the original, which made me fall in love with it even more, and which, eventually, led me to fall in love with the band and their music. And yeah, they’ve got these awesome music videos, too.

Seriously stoked! Gotta buy tickets soon. 🙂

Your Not-So-Imaginary Pledge

Image taken from the band’s site.

One of my favorite local indie bands, Your Imaginary Friends, is cooking up a second EP. I can still remember the time when I went to their first EP launching (One Dreamy Indeterminate Hum) two years ago at the Ayala Museum. Man, it was one hell of a night! After that, their songs have been a staple in my playlist — perfect for pre-sleep moments, brief bus travels to work, and a kick-giver when you’re bored at work.

So yeah, I am very much excited to hear something new from them again. Can’t wait to hear the studio version of Your Silence is a Villain. 🙂

The 2nd EP is set to be released this December. The band is currently collecting pledges until October 25. You can check out the details here. Every pledge amount has something special waiting for the pledger.

What are you waiting for? Turn in your pledges now! 🙂

Music

Earlier today, I tweeted and posted this as status in my Twitter and FB:

I think it’s highly impossible to find someone who, in any way, has not been touched by music.

This was a result of my never-ending doodling yesterday when I’ve got nothing to do and just passing the time. As a music lover, it’s really hard for me to understand someone who is not into it. I live with music. I grew up with it. Sometimes, something won’t be a memory if there’s no music associated with it. Remember the song playing while you were hanging out with your friends and having your infinite moment, the song that you sang with your batchmates during graduation, or the song that was playing in your head when you first fell in love?

But one friend replied with, “Deaf since birth?”. That got me into thinking. He has a point.

Just when I thought that I thought of something brilliant, someone with a much realistic idea contradicts it. This is what I love about having discussions with smart people. They never stop you from thinking. It’s humbling, really. 🙂