You have not known what you are.
You have slumbered upon yourself all your life.
Your eyes have been as much as closed most of the time.
What you have done is already in mockeries.

The mockeries are not you.
Underneath them
And within them,
I see you lurk...

-Walt Whitman


AIS9: Top 6 [Farewell, Siobhan]

THE COMPETITION heated up this week with the songs of Shania Twain. And what a tight competition it was. The Top 6 contestants really performed well and I was anxious to know to would be sent home. But in the end it was Siobhan who got cut. She did well with an upbeat song but I think it all boiled down to popularity.

Anyway, let me recall the performances last Wednesday. Casey James and Aaron Kelly gave their personal bests. Casey gave an acoustic rendition of
Don’t. I really liked it. I think the country-popular genre suits him better than blues. His tone was reminiscent of that vocalist from Lifehouse and matched with a very melodic song, I had to agree that it was his best performance yet. Through the whole season, his laid-back performances are the ones that stood out. He should stick with it. Aaron also did well this week. It would be really disappointing if he didn’t given that he’s the resident country singer this season. He made a perfect song choice and it showed his range. He still sounded a little strained on the high notes but what I really liked was when he hits the softer ones. Michael Lynch nailed a country ballad. I’m glad he decided to deliver the song with an Rnb-Soul twist. It was good; however I think he could’ve done more with it. The climax was a little hanging in my opinion. Lee sang the only Shania Twain song I know. I liked the part when he sang the verses with those slight changes in the melody. He didn’t change the chorus part that much. But over-all it was still a solid number. His tone just seems to make any song contemporary and current. He’s still my bet to win the whole thing. His toughest contender, Crystal, on the other hand gave an easy-listening performance. It’s too laid back no wonder the judges commented that it wasn’t one of her best. I mean people got used to Crystal delivering the weekly bomb. Well she deserves an off-day although it was not really that off. Everyone else just stepped up a notch.

Lee and Crystal are still the front-runners but given what happened this week, everyone now seems to be on the same footing. It becomes more exciting now. Two weeks back I actually thought Idol was slightly losing its luster and many people think that it is. Hmm… I wonder why that is. By the way, I really like the bands featured on the Results Show.
Lady Antebellum is it? And the Sons of Silvia. They sound really good.

Four weeks to go! Woohoo!



"It must be a wonderful thing to be so sure that you love somebody."

–Toru, from Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

I WISH IT HAS A NAME, or at least I hope there are words to exactly define it—this encrypted feeling locked within an undecipherable riddle. It doesn’t feel like there are bugs inside my gut, no fluttering wings whatsoever. It’s confusing but elating at the same time. But I am sure of one thing: This is dangerous. My mind is 100 percent certain of this. But as it usually does, my heart begs to differ.

There is a calming sense of comfort that came with it, clawing down my walls. A creeping warm came over me like someone invisible is embracing me. I could feel my heart beat in an odd way; strings vibrating with every breath that cast haunting melodies in the dark. I stare into the blank ceiling in a reverie, silently praying to never come out of it. As I struggle to fan the flame from its dying embers, I feel like a man trying with all his might to kindle a candle light in the middle of a raging storm. The wind is just too strong.

I couldn’t help it. I want to be tempted by this happiness. I don’t want to think. It’s fascinating how it is capable of causing beautiful chaos in the austere monotony of my world. Suddenly, I see faded photographs of the past in a whole new light—vibrant and filled with colors. I just want to look at them and trip and fall completely but I am so cautious of my steps. I walk head down watching my feet. Someone had tipped the scales underneath me and I am anxious to know what will happen next. But I know that a choice has still to be made to make something actually happen. To make the choice is easy but sticking to the choice is hard.

Everything is so much simpler without this—simpler and cold. I am not sure if it’s a good thing. In some ways it is. But for someone who had lost hope, and then gained an ounce of it back without any warning out of thin air, it becomes a very scary thing to have. It means there is now something to lose. I am terrified because I know it will just lead me nowhere. But that is how it works. The inspiration will push me to tread its winding path despite the ominous consequences—an endless journey reeking with broken expectations. It feels like I am about to walk the thin line that separates the act of hoping from expecting-- a burdensome feat reminiscent of giving love without expecting anything in return. That’s the way it’s always going to be, isn’t it?

But there will be no such journey. I know myself this much. This maybe perhaps one of my greatest flaws, but it’s something that makes me who I am. Or maybe… just maybe—I don’t know myself as much I’d like to believe that I do. But ‘maybe’ is better than ‘no’ at this point. If that’s the case, then there may still be a sliver of chance for redemption…


AI S9: Top 7 [Teflon Tim Goes Home]

TIM finally got cast out off the competition and I couldn’t quite believe that I actually felt bad about it. Well, he’s a sportsman and it’s very admirable of him to come back after going through very tough critiques for his horrible performances. I liked his song choice by the way, Better Days by the Goo Goo Dolls and very dynamic arrangement too. However, he didn’t quite have the pipes for it. Casey James definitely deserved to be on the Bottom 3 this week. He’s becoming really predictable and boring. Sticking to his comfort zone will not do it, I think and choosing another blues song this week could mean the end of the road for him. Aaron Kelly did a karaoke performance of a very big song. He could reach the high notes alright but they sounded strained. It was very uncomfortable to watch.

I was looking forward to this week because they were to take on inspirational songs. I was anticipating great melodic songs but the contestants’ choices didn’t sound very inspirational to the ears. Big Mike took on Hero from the Spider-Man Soundtrack and it just didn’t complement his voice which I think is wired for RnB and Soul. Siobhan sang When You Believe well, but it fell really short. Her vibrato in the opening phrases was hard which was quite distracting. I love the softer notes at the end though.

It’s now easier to point out the front-runners of the season—Lee and Crystal. Lee gave a very contemporary rendition of The Boxer. It’s a good choice I think. I grew up hearing this song from my Tito and hearing it again somehow made it sound bittersweet. It’s not his best performance but it was outstanding at least. Crystal delivered a song with a very Gospel vibe. It’s a solid performance...again. However, I wish she didn’t cry at the end. I don’t know. I’ve seen quite a number of singers shedding tears at the end of their songs and seeing it again with Crystal, well, it appeared tiny bit cliché.

It was Idol Gives Back again. I don’t know if it’s just me but this season’s Gives Back just felt quite forced and rushed. There was this stand-up comedian who was really mediocre and sounded really corny. It felt as if there are a lot of gaps in the show that needed to be filled up. The performances were boring (well except for Carrie Underwood’s Change) and nothing stuck. It’s too bad Annie Lennox got stranded in London. I was really looking forward to her live performance.

Five more weeks to go!


past the edges

Remember me

As a time of day

You play on a loop in your head;

On your bed the silky calm;

A prayer sweet, a haunting psalm.

In your dream I will hide

Push aside doubt-driven shadows

That grows on your fear-drunken soul—

A bright cloud-covered sun.

Remember me

As the last light of dusk,

Basked in your reverie

Which beauty defies the dawn;

Think first of me

As the first light of day touches you,

Paints a smile on your face;

Hurts erased from the night before.

Wake up, sleepy head!

Stay awake and stay forevermore.

Remember me

As the last thought in your pocket;

Under toothless smiles, a dark secret.

From oblivion rescue me

This lone sailor lost at sea.

Put arms around my name

After it slips from your tongue.

Hold it tight before I depart

And break into an exaltation of larks

Nesting past the edges of the skies.

From your eyes let not grief flow,

The wilting images of now and ago.

In your heart hide my voice—

The soft whispers in the dark

A choice to a path to tread

Before I crumble to dust and you—

A closed book I once read.


AI S9: Top 9 [Two Birds With One Stone]

AND BECAUSE THE JUDGES invoked their sole save for the entire competition last week, two semifinalists were sent home yesterday—Andrew and Katie. Based on their performances, I think they deserved to be cast off from the competition. Andrew gave a very old-fashioned performance. It’s too bad because I know how talented he is. However, he is not that versatile. Elvis Week was just miles away from his music style. He didn’t try to give a current twist on a classic Elvis song sending the audience at the edge of boredom. Katie on the other hand, obviously has gained confidence through the course of the competition. Her vocals this week was good but it sounded a little whiny and nasally, I think. It felt short given that everyone had stepped up.

Elvis Week. I am not crazy about Elvis’ songs so I’m a little half-hearted with the performances. Crystal in my opinion is becoming a little predictable. I don’t know. She always gives a solid performance with crazy vocals but maybe she’s lacking a little bit of charisma. Aaron took on an Elvis classic. He gave a country twang into it but it didn’t sound very relevant. I love Siobhan’s personality but her last performance was just OK. She went with her shrieks but it didn’t quite work. I actually thought she would be a part of the Bottom 3 this week. Casey went back to his blues roots but it fell really short and flat. I think he should choose songs that would challenge his vocal range. The blues-y songs he chooses lacks lengths in octaves for his voice.

I really like the stripped performances this week. I can’t believe I’m saying this but Tim is really growing on me. Sticking with his guitar and singing the beautifully melodic song Can’t Help Falling In Love was a clever move. He really played the guitar really well. The arrangement and twists in the melody of the song was perfect. He sang it with an unadulterated voice and it sounded heartfelt and honest. It was his best performance so far. Big Mike’s acoustic rendition of In The Getto is just simply beautiful. Listening to a beautiful song delivered with that big, fluid, rifting voice was just a delight. That’s the kind of music I love to listen to when I just bask on my bed thinking about nothing.

Lee Dewyze is my official bet to win this season. I love the thickness and quality of his tone and so far, he’s successful in making the songs he chooses sound current. I can see that he’s pushing himself week after week and each performance is now being delivered with conviction. The shy personality works for him I think. It somehow gives an element of surprise. I don’t know. I admire people who are really good at something and don’t even know it. Needless to say, he gave the bomb this week given I don’t like the song. :P

Inspirational songs will be featured next week. Now that’s way better! And there’s Idol Gives Back. Grool!


impurities of the circle

Alejandro Amenabar’s Agora takes us back to a younger world where people still believed that the earth is flat, a chunk of rock floating as the center of the cosmos. The story revolves around Hipatia, an Egyptian mathematician and philosopher in Alexandria, and her exploits for scientific wisdom to answer the most basic questions that eluded mankind for centuries; a tragic struggle to find the truth about the order of the universe in a chaotic world torn apart by political and religious feuds.

The film tackles conflicts that came way back from the ancient times and are still relevant till today like how differences in religion and spiritual beliefs can divide people or the dilemma in reconciling certain sociological issues with Biblical teachings such as the supposed role of women in the society; that women should not have authority to lead or that men should be superior to women. I think this is still evident today but I’d say very much improved compared to the ancient times. It also touches the clash of science and religion (highlighted in Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons), particularly with regards to the belief that the Earth as the center of the universe versus the Heliocentric Model put forth by Aristarchus, Galileo, and Copernicus.

The movie also cleverly paints a picture of the concept of faith—how it could affect the choices of an individual or his freewill. It raises questions like: What if the religion you chose doesn’t feel right? Is faith a question of choice or time? It makes me wonder. I think it’s in the nature of people to have a spiritual need. I mean we need to believe that we are created for a reason and that there is a Higher Power governing our lives. But let’s say for instance you don’t have a religion or a belief system. And because you have spiritual needs, you have to make a choice as to what would you want to believe. Out of so many religions all over the world, what would you want to be a part of? But of course, if you’d want a wise choice, the best way would be to immerse yourself to every belief system there is, right? But is there such a thing as a right choice when it comes to faith? I think I’m gonna leave it at that because obviously, this should be tackled on a separate post.

Back to the movie (on a lighter note) :D Another thing I liked about it is how it brought out the geek in me. Somehow, watching it was like a refresher course in Astronomy and Analytic Geometry. Questions like, If the Earth moves at blinding speeds in space, why can’t we feel it? Why does the sun appear smaller at times? What are principles behind the conic shapes? I racked by brains and tried to answer these questions in my head as technical as possible. It’s pretty incredible really if you look at it from this perspective, where the answers to these questions now seem very simple and insignificant. But to people back then, such question was so puzzling that it strikes them whenever they gaze up the sky.

I really applaud those philosophers who were able separate themselves to the ignorant world to find the right answers. I think it was very hard for them to shed old beliefs to find new facts. Philosophers back then believed that the earth moves around the sun in a circle, because it was revered as a pure and perfect shape, and this belief blinded them to see how the Earth moves in space. Even Hipatia was torn apart between bliss and sadness when she found out that the earth revolves around the sun in an ellipse, and not in a circle like she hoped it did. I guess the truth is not always what we expect it to be, but at least it sets us free, which is far more important.

I highly recommend this movie. It is history laced with fiction. Great photography by Xavi Gimenez and soundtrack by Dario Marianelli. The art direction was great and the costumes too. But I warn you— It’s a tragedy… so I’m digging it. Hehe! But if you’re happy, stay happy. Don’t watch it! Haha!

I wonder if there’s still a surviving scroll from that Library in Alexandria. Hmm. It would be really cool to read from one. It would be like finding a lost Van Gogh.


AI S9: Top 9 [Let's Keep Big Mike For Another Week]

THE PANEL invoked the Judges' Save and unanimously decided to keep Michael Lynch for at least another week. I’m glad that they did because I think Big Mike did a pretty good job on his sudden death performance. Actually, I was quite surprised that he was part of the Bottom 3 this week. He shouldn't be in that position in the first place. His performance was not perfect vocally but he’s very good over-all. I loved the arrangement with the strings and how he twisted the song. I couldn’t see why Simon commented on it as being theatrical. Hmm. In my opinion I think Andrew or Aaron should’ve been the one sent to the chopping block. Andrew’s performance was very old fashioned. It was very disappointing considering how I loved his Forever cover last week. Aaron on the other hand sang Long and Winding Road, which I think is his worst showing in the semis. David Archuleta also did this song and I say Aaron didn’t even come close to what Archie had made of it. Again, his lack of technique is starting to become more noticeable.

Tim on the other hand, surprisingly did quite well this week. It was not a shocker that he made it through this week without being dumped at the bottom end. I’m pretty sure after two-three weeks of suffering harsh critiques from the judges and then coming up with a good performance, he gained quite a number of sympathy votes, plus, those from the usual Tim loyalists. I actually thought this was it for Tim but, no. And that’s what great about the season: Everyone seems to be on the same footing and anyone could be sent home.

It’s Lennon-Macartney week on Idol. Crystal was her usual self when she performed Come Together—great vocals. And the durgeriedoo (I don’t how it’s spelled!) actually worked for her. It was a very unusual instrument but I think it’s cool! Siobhan pulled back a little with a dramatic delivery of Across the Universe. I liked it but I had to agree that it was quite sleepy. It’s nice to hear her finally sing without shrieking at the end. It felt honest. Lee is starting to peak now. It’s apparent on his performances that he’s becoming more and more confident each week. I liked his Hey, Jude number but I had to agree with Simon, that unlike the durgeriedoo, the bag pipes didn’t worked or rather the bag pipe player kind of ruined it just a bit. It just felt really distracting. I mean Lee’s in the middle of the song and then suddenly, this man wearing a plaid and a feathered head gear, comes down the stairs blowing his bag pipes. I understand what effect Lee was trying to pull off but it made the whole thing a little corny.

There were two hot performances this week. Katie gave her best performance yet, singing Let It Be. Her voice was just so tender and then when she built the dynamics at the end, it’s incredible. It was a very clean delivery: no stray notes and she sounded really confident. But the night, I think, goes to Casey James, when he sang a stripped version of Jealous Guy. Guitar and cello was a perfect combination. I could appreciate his vocals because there were no unnecessary sounds of the drums or synthesizers. The sense of vulnerability and the honesty made it very believable. However, I thought he could’ve done more with it. It felt quite hanging for a song that gives a wide space to work with. But still, it’s a very remarkable performance…

The nine is still intact. But next week two, will be sent home. Things are starting unravel… Ooohh…


truly extraordinary

STOP then press play... I think you should see this. Press PLAY!

If you watched the 82nd Academy Awards without missing a single frame, I’m pretty sure you know what I’m talking about. The LXD (The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers) was created by the Director Jon M. Chu, wherein he put together an elite group of dancers to make a web series-- the first online dance adventure.

The LXD is the ultimate mixture of dance genres raging from hip-hop to mechanical precision, breakdancing, krumping, contemporary and modern ballet. Well crafted choreography usually accompanied with classical and symphonic rock, transforms their body movements into living works of art—a breath-taking display of poetry in motion.

One of my favourites is their number for So You Think You Can Dance. They performed with the music of Vitamin String Quartet’s version of Yellow by Coldplay. It was nothing short of amazing. The movements, no matter how many different styles inspired them, complemented each other. Adorned with great stunts and dramatic story-telling, it would be impossible to witness them take the stage and not say WOW! You could just imagine my frustration when Party Pilipinas aka SOP Part 2, did a desperate version of the performance. They looked ridiculous really. That kind of choreography works for the LXD because they are masters of their craft. At least a decent dancer is qualified to try and do it... but I strongly believe Aljur Abrenica is far from being one.

The LXD also has performed live for the 2010 TED conference and a TBS Ellen DeGeneres special at Caesar's Palace. The web series is due this year. Visit THELXD.COM for updates and performances.

I can’t wait. T_T


norwegian wood

"Memory is a funny thing. When I was in the scene I hardly paid it any attention. I never stopped to think of it as something that would make a lasting impression, certainly never imagined that 18 years later I would recall it in such detail. I didn't give a damn about the scenery that day. I was thinking about myself. I was thinking about the beautiful girl walking next to me. I was thinking about the two of us together, and then about myself again. I was at that age, that time of life when every sight, every feeling, every thought came back, like a boomerang, to me. And worse, I was in love. Love with complications. Scenery was the last thing on my mind."

Norwegian Wood

IT'S BEEN AGES since I last read a book and finished it. I have this bad habit of reading one and then impulsively start another. Needless to say, I have now five novels of different authors (mostly borrowed from Hales); all of them accumulating dust and silently wishing to be passionately read till their last pages. Unfortunately for them, I met Haruki Murakami and got my own laptop.

Two weeks ago, I went to my bestfriend’s place and conducted our usual trade of resources; they usually range from audio files, latest movies we’d seen, and television series we follow. That day she offered me her e-book collection she got from her colleague. The collection included Chuck Palahniuk, JD Salinger, Joseph Heller, Ian McEwan, Kurt Vonnegut, Jack Kerouac, and Haruki Murakami. I accepted of course. I’d take anything from Hales. That’s how much I trust her aesthetic taste in things.

Murakami. This name came out twice or thrice already on my blog-hopping. And so from the seven authors, I chose to read him first to see what the fuzz is all about-- Intellectual curiosity. I decided to start with Norwegian Wood because Haley won’t stop raving about it on her Tumbler. It’s been adapted into a movie and is due to premiere in Japan this December. It stars “L” from the Deathnote movies. This should be interesting!

Norwegian Wood
is a simple love story; no extravagant, mouth-dropping plot twists or car chases across Rome. It was just a sheer honest piece of fiction, very gentle but grips hard on you. It was my first time to witness Murakami’s brilliance in story-telling. The narrative parts were made very tasteful with poetic words, enabling him to conjure this vivid image of the world through the eyes of the main character. He also made an excellent job in amplifying each character’s personality through engaging conversations. The novel is written in an autobiographical approach. I love novels written in such way. It’s easier to step on the character’s shoes and relate to the story. The version of the book I’ve read was translated in English by Jay Rubin, since it was originally written in Japanese. It’s incredible really. However, it makes me wonder how it would be like to read Murakami in its original context. Imagine if Bob Ong’s works were to be translated in English. Doesn’t feel right, is it?

Norwegian Wood, (Yep, the Beetles song) is about Toru, a conflicted young college student who fell in love with two girls: his classmate, Midori, and his dead bestfriend’s girlfriend, Naoko. To whom did he end up with? Well, I suggest you read it. The guy’s clearly confused, because I got confused too which I is exactly the point I think.

I am now currently reading Murakami’s
After Dark. Awoo!


AI S9: Top 10 [Bye, Didi]

I FEEL SORRY FOR DIDI. One bad performance and she’s sent home. She shouldn’t have departed from her element. The folk genre actually has been working for her, complementing the singer-songwriter vibe she exudes. I actually thought she would be spared by the judges after hearing her sudden death performance but they didn’t for some reasons. It was good in my opinion, but apparently not good enough to sway all the judges.

I can’t believe ‘Teflon’ Tim is still in the competition. Even though he’s been consistently boring and annoying, he still manages to smile his way from a round to the next. Very sneaky as Ellen had put it. His last performance was probably the most excruciating thing that happened on Idol stage. But let’s be patient people. It’s only a matter of time now as reflected by consistent low votes he’s having. [Insert evil laugh]

The contestants took on Soul/RnB this week. Casey gave an excellent performance but I agree with Kara and Ellen that the songs he chooses restrict his voice to soar. Katie showed that she had powerful pipes when she took on Chain of Fools, but the song’s quite old fashioned for me. Aaron Kelly gave an OK performance—a cupcake as opposed to a main course according to Simon. I was thrilled to know that Crystal would be playing the piano; however, it became a distraction for her. She looked uncomfortable with it. Her eyes were on the keys, and then the first notes were off. But as she went on, her voice came through with its usual brilliance. But I really think she should stick with her guitar. Siobhan sang Through the Fire which was an indulgent choice in my opinion. It was very predictable with all the shrieking (which were mostly sharp), and the off-notes were all over the place. I really thought she would be part of the Bottom 3 this week. But I really feel sorry for her when the judges started bombarding her with critiques. Her eyes were glassy and it felt like she would cry a stream of tears on the spot. But I really admired her when she commented about the VTR after her performance and said “I am not defeated!” Go Siobhan! I like her personality.

There were three breakthrough performances this week. Big Mike blew me away with his stripped-unplugged performance of a beautiful song. It just felt so honest and believable. It’s definitely the best I heard from him I think. Lee Dewyze is the David Cook of Season 9. If he could be remain consistent and with that incredible voice, he might just win the whole thing. On his last performance, he really connected with the song and it showed on how he moved and how his voice struck the notes. It was an excellent job! But my favorite performance of the week was Andrew Garcia’s acoustic rendition of Chris Brown’s ‘Forever’. It was the perfect song choice—very contemporary and easy to relate to. His husky voice was spot on. Plus, I love the arrangement with the strings and the beatbox—very reminiscent of Boyce Avenue’s covers (I don’t like their originals though. Hehe!)

Let me just say, Usher is so cool! I think he’s the coolest Idol mentor ever. Hehe! Ciao!