Shaken Not Stirred

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Nightmare Cable

My parents get a Filipino network via satellite cable. Although I don't understand the language very well, I can still see how poorly some of the programming is. It also makes me laugh at how slap stick or how corny some of the shows are. But I guess, they might say the same thing of our sit-coms (however, I don't think so, seeing that some of the top shows over there are Friends, Fear Factor, and some other American shows. Oh yes, 90210 is also popular there. While going to medical school there, I saw a poster advertising some shop using a poster of Brandon, Brenda, Dillon, Kelly--the early years. Brandon still had the Farrah Fawcet wave going in his bangs).

I also find it hard to believe that my mother is hooked on one of the soap operas. It's so obvious how it will turn out. Their soap operas, unlike ours, do have an ending. Most only last one season and tell a story from beginning to end. So unlike Saturday Night Live skits, they know when to end a bad thing. However, from one I could understand, these stories all seem derived from the same root. The basis of each soap seems to be a wealthy family, a poor family, the priveledged child falling in love with the not so lucky child, some sort of closet skeleton which ties both familes together. We all know boy gets girl, closet skeleton exhumed for repair and a huge wedding at the end. It's like that for almost every one of the soaps. The newest soap however seems to be even more far-fetched. The latest one has a mermaid. Yes a mermaid. She has fins (not as beautifully done as Daryl Hannah's in Splash--but she has gills, long hair which cover her breast, and seashells dangling from her neck). I didn't even bother to ask my mother for the story.

Another thing I wonder about is the music. Did they pay for the copyrights to use some of the music they do? I remember seeing a lot of CD's for sale on local corners for less than a dollar. For instance, they love the song by Stephen Bishop "Maybe It's You" (theme from Tootsie). It seems to waft in the background of balcony scenes and dreamy walks along the beach. You wanna talk barf? I don't understand what they are saying, but by their actions, or should I say over-acted expressions, the couple is really in love. They also get into a heated argument where someone always gets slapped and there is a lot of crying. Not just sobbing, but heart wrenching, intestine twisting crying. And it isn't the girl doing the crying--it's the boy. He is usually begging for love and forgiveness. Now I'm not chauvanistic and I do feel it's alright for a guy to cry. But like this? The only time I think it's alright to let that emotion out is when one's testicals get run over by an eighteen wheeler. But these guys can cry--red eyes, tears, snot flying every which way and heaving chests. It's pathetic. Not very manly. Some of them need to watch Spike Television, not Lifetime.

Speaking of used music (whether the copyrights have been paid for or not), I have found where Air Supply has been hiding. Not that I was looking. But while I was in school over there, people still liked the music. It was played on the radio a lot. And it's in some of these soap operas too. So if you wanna hear them again, go to the Philippines for vacation. You can also get some of their music really cheap...less than a buck.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Smoking Commercials

Lately we've been bombarded by these infomercial by Take A Stand. Students both college and high school (mainly high school I think) have been voicing their opinions concerning smoking. This is alright, they are entitled to do it. However, sometimes in an effort to make a point, they lose it. There was one girl who after talking in circles ended up saying "Screw you tobacco companies". Screw you for what? After all, tobacco companies are also only doing their part, voicing their opinion, selling a product. They aren't shoving the cigarettes down the throats of society. Smokers choose to smoke, drinkers choose to drink, customers prefer visa over mastercard and Burger King patrons will have it their way. What it all boils down to is advertising and freedom of speech.

Back to the "screw you" chick. Since I've recently found myself overweight (mainly because of eating Chips with my study crew while doing practice questions), can I say "Screw You Lays"? Nope I can't. The chippage consumption was completely my own doing. Yes they are addictive (more mentally than anything else). But the whole consumption thing or lack of self-control was my doing. I shoved handfuls of that stuff down my throat--along with the Cadbury Creme Filled Eggs. Getting mad at the advertisers is completely ridiculous. If you want to target an audience, target the smokers. But a word of warning, don't be aggressive. Smokers don't like to be told to put it out.

It was like that law suit--if memory serves me and if it wasn't an internet hoax---some consumer was trying to sue McDonalds for being overweight. WHAT? How is this the fault of a restaurant. They just served the food. No one asked the person to go thru the drive thru 22 times a day. Like I said, it's a part of advertising. It's a hypnotic sub-culture that makes us believe we need more than we actually do. Our purchasing power is really up to us though. The advertising companies are just doing what they are told.

Tobacco companies know that their product is bad. It's part of their warning label. All the research points in that direction. It is really up to the consumer to stop smoking, an individual decision. Yes, standing up and voicing your concerns is great. Giving us true testimonials on it's affect on your lives is even better. But it seems to me like you are shoving the whole concept down people's throat. As a past smoker, I would have been furious to have seen some of these commercials. I would have donned the attitude, "I can smoke if I want". Just a natural defense mechanism. One of those all American, "I've got my rights, my freedom to choose". And with some person who has never smoked telling me "Screw you", only adds fire to already boiling pot.

It's always been said, the best way to catch flies is with honey. Lure a customer into the product or ideal and then snap the trap shut. It's the way these tobacco, fast food ads, amazing discoveries infomercial and Best of the 80's Pop CD people do it. They set out the lure, then BLAM! You're caught.

I know that smoking can make you angry. Since I've quit a year ago, I can't stand the smell at times. I just go to the non-smoking session. Go to the part of Rome, where the Romans are doing what you are doing. You don't have to wear Non-Smoker orange shirts in the smoking section to make your point. In fact why do you have to go to that section at all? Kinda look funny doing it. The attitude doesn't sell over there. You give them something to talk about.

Anyway, I know you are just expressing your opinion as I am too. I applaud your efforts, but not your methods.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Progress Interrupted

While chatting with one of my buddies on the phone, he kept insisting that I turn the channel to Fox Network to watch The Swan. I have only seen the show advertised a few times and had no interest. But he kept saying things like "Oh my God, look at that one. Come on, you like boobs right? Check this girl out. She looks like a porn version of Morgan Fairchild". That got me, so I turned to the channel. What I saw, was a smiling big haired, over made-up girl wearing a dress designed by the makers of Barbie. Her hair stiff, not swaying naturally with her moves, make-up flawless, whitened teeth that could send coded signals to the moon and a proud family applauding their new mom/wife/sister. The premise of the show? To turn an ugly duckling into a swan. Along with the natural method of getting oneself to look good--diet, exercise, therapy both physical and mental, but with plastic surgery as well. What the show was really selling was to feel good on the inside, one must get that stuff scraped out via face-lifts, nose-jobs, plastic boobies and liposuction. You can't erase the past unless you do it with a scalpal. Nice message huh?
I thought the women of today were beyond all that. I don't mind the occasionally beauty pageant. It's nice to look at beautiful people strutting their stuff, walking with a sway so gentle that one is hypnotized. Speaking with such eloquence that the words seem to slide off their tongue and float to our ears. And lastly a goal so high, that even Shaq couldn't touch it's backboard. But because we were moving into a new millenium (or according to one of Will Smith's songs--the Willenium), I thought none of that mattered anymore. We were going to teach everyone to look beyond the veneers and push-up bras. To see the soul as mirrored by the inner-self. Not to see the wind-blown hairdo and spray-on tan.
And really, what were the producers thinking? They took these women with already fragile egos, threw them into a gym, gave them some therapy, cracked them open, pulled out all the residue, slapped some silk/satin/lace on them, threw them on a runway, and spotlighted them. Yes, the plastic surgery did wonders. Yes, they did look amazing compared to their former selves. I can't really judge though. Why is it when a "former" picture of a person is given, it's the most horrible looking picture ever taken. The Department of Motor Vehicles could win photojournalism awards compared to the pictures shown. They could have at least shown wedding pictures, prom pictures, or even family portraits. Nope, they show these let your four year old comb your hair and dress you pictures. So of course the new and improved does look tantalizing and flawless. Anyway, back to the topic..these women already have fragile egos. To throw them into a beauty contest would not boost their egos. It would only make them think, "I lost to other ducklings. What does this make me?".
I think the show may have thrown us back to the era of Mona Lisa Smiles. When a women was judged by her basic ability to be beautiful to a standard. Anyhow, ten minutes left to the show. I've gotta at least see who wins.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Television For Men

Spike Television is probably one of the greatest creations. It's a manly channel, without over doing the sports. I'm not really a sport type person. But I did get use to studying with ESPN blaring in the background. My buddies left the television on four the extent of college. I don't remember a time when the television was ever off. Even if no one was home, the television was left on. I don't know the reason this was done, but it was. We didn't have Spike Television back then. I think if we had, it would have been on for the 24 hour stretch.

We did watch some movies on "TBS", which was okay. It wasn't too dramatic, but some of the shows pulled at the heart strings. I remember gathering around to watch "Red Dawn". The show was about the average American town, with budding football heroes and cheerleaders with legs that stretched for miles. The only fences between the neighbors were the white picket ones that separated their yards. Everyone knew everyone. The perfect set-up for doom. Their doom was the landing of the enemy (I seem to remember they were Russian, but not sure). Anyhow, all of us were drawn into the story. At one point, when the townspeople were kept in concentration-line areas,, the football team decided they were going to take back their home. The leader of the pack gave such a gut wrenching speech, I could feel my stomach rise and my throat gasp. The silence was broken among our audience when one of the guys asked, "You sad?". Another watcher grunted in positive agreement (I won't say who admitted they were sad). It was a bonding moment for the boys of Jones Avenue.

Now we have Spike TV. A very cool alternative to "Lifetime Television for Women".

I was watching "Rocky V" on Spike the other day. I don't really remember all the Rocky sequels or their plots. I do remember that Sylvester Stallone always managed to overcome some obstacle--usually another boxer who had provoked unstirred emotions. As he would gain his strength, the theme "Gonna Fly Now" would start out softly and low pitched and become loud. That was the magical moment, Rocky gained all his strength and defeated the enemy. And if every ending, Rocky, bleeding from every part of his skull, would yell "Yo Adrienne" while the crowd carried him off into the spotlight. The end.

During Rocky V, there was a heart wrenching moment. I feel it would have been the clip they showed during the Oscars, had Sylvester Stallone ever been nominated. The scene showed a depressed Rocky, who had lost all his money and the cadet he was training. His lovely, stay by his side wife Adrienne trying to comfort him. She said, "When you were in that ring, I took every punch you did,". This was said without holding back the sobs. She further said, "You didn't win with muscle. You won with heart". As she did this, she laid her head upon his chest. Rocky responded by chocking his own sobs back. I too, swallowed saliva a few times. No one was in the room, why didn't I allow myself to wail? Just in case.

Spike TV gives us those movies that will explore our emotions, without castrating us. It has those Jerry McGuire feel good movies about the male psyche. No bruises are left on the ego. And from time to time, you'll get veklempt. Great channel to watch alone with nachoes and beer. Also great to watch when you don't really want to talk to you buddy (who has just broken up with his girlfriend), but you don't want to leave him alone. Just flip to the channel. I'm sure something will be playing that will ease the tension and pain.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

For Sale: Cell Block 10

For Sale: Spacious 10x12, non-carpeted, 1/2 bath, view of courtyard, bunkbeds available and semi-private.
Yesterday while reading the news, an article called "Pay As You Stay" caught my eye. The picture featured a guy in prison gear standing in a cell block. The article was about a Klamath Falls, Oregon, prison which required the inmates to pay rent. They could pay rent on an ability to pay basis--choosing to pay as stayed or to have the money taken from future wages upon release.

In a way, this makes sense. I mean after all, why should tax payers be burdened with feeding these criminals? Some tax payers don't get to eat, but their FICA (what is that?) makes sure that someone is getting something. I mean really, criminals, who have burdened society not only with their crimes, but their incarceration, are basically getting three meals a day and a place to stay. It may not be a perfect little place, but it is still a roof over their heads. So why shouldn't they pay? Afterall, they shouldn't be allowed to sit on their asses all day, pondering the worth of their life.

One of the prisoners was in full agreement with the plan. He said that he caused his own incarceration and when he gets out, he planned to have his share of the rent taken out of his wages. Other prisoners disagreed, saying that taking any money from their already impoverished families would be unfair. Unfair? Hmmm, was it fair for you to murder, steal, rape or pillage? I think not. Is it fair for other families to have the burden of putting you up in some institution?

The guard or warden who came up with this idea, did it as a last ditch effort to keep his prison open. At first he took away salt and pepper, coffee and ketchup. By doing this, he saved something like $30,000 a year. Holy tomatoes Robin, would you like some french fries with that Heinz? How does one consume that much salt and ketchup--in one prison? Or are they buying Ketchup by Versace? From this savings, he brainstormed the idea of paying as you stay. A much better solution to the bland cafeteria food.

So if this becomes a requirement, does that mean better housing for the more elite criminals? Will criminals be able to choose their address? Will someone like Martha Stewart be able to have designer linens and all wood floors? Will there be a gated community within the already gated community?

In other news, there were naked people riding some rollercoaster in England. Approximately 80 students rode this rollercoaster in the buff. Their reason? None. It just had never been done before and they thought they would try it. Talk about testicles being thrown left and right...and also mammary glands being tossed up to your earlobes. I'm sure amusement park goers got a great visual image that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

All aboard!

Friday, May 21, 2004

American Idiots

I watched a special that American Idol had last night. It was mainly some of the memorable auditions. I can't believe that some of these people are actually trying out. Are they joking? I have to agree with Simon when he said that he can't believe that these people have turned up. He went on to say that he believes most of them are there to get on television and have their two minutes of fame.

It does baffle me that at this junction of the show, it's third season, people still audition. They've seen what kind of tongue lashing Simon Cowell can give. I'm sure they have had friends tell them that they are tone deaf. And please, what is with the spastic chorea? Not dancing. I've seen better chicken dances at drunken wedding receptions. There was one guy, bless his heart, who cried after the audition. He couldn't sing (I mean well, he wasn't tone deaf). And he was tearing into the camera during the after-interview. He said that he was going to try out again next year, fighting the choking sobs. He may not have been so memorable had he not showed Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson and Simon what made him stand apart from the rest of the contestants. His other talent? Some trick where he could make his six-pack abs jiggle or something. What the hell? Why on God's green earth, would anyone incorporate some Abs of Steel maneuver into their singing act? Well, maybe he can provide music to some Tae Bo Abs update DVD. It will be better than the organ music.

I can't believe what some people will do for that five minute shot of fame. While I was taking the review in Rutherford, on the local news, there was some guy who wanted to get on The Apprentice, so he stood outside Trump Towers, just handing out his resume to anyone who would take it. I'm not sure what he thought he was going to achieve. In fact I think he provided more litter than inspiration or attention. He got his three minute news segment. I don't think Donald would choose someone like that. However, he did consider hiring Sam, that is after Sam paid him to. Fame whores!

And then there is the Bachelor. This show just makes it permissible for one person to sleep with sixteen. This is perfectly acceptable as long as he is still making his decision. What it is basically is consensual polygamy. I can't believe that some of these girls bawl and say they had a connection. "Last night we had such a connection. He said things to me that no one else has ever said, made me feel special". Honey, the only connection you have is a shared penis with sixteen other willing participants. You just didn't swallow enough or maybe your lips were chapped. He didn't have enough time to reject you for a real reason. It's as superficial as your application to join the show.

To close, I obviously watch enough of these shows to comment. And it's more than obvious that I'm addicted to reality television. It was said that reality is weirder than fiction.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Skin Cancer, Jock Itch and Erectile Dysfunction

Yesterday I saw a commercial about skin cancer. The spokeswoman gave some statistic like "every such and such a second, a woman gets skin cancer. That's why you should use....". Uh, men get skin cancer too. Later that day, I saw another commercial that didn't exclude men--the sunblock showed a whole family using it.

Women seem to advertise their personal hygiene issues. Growing up I noticed that most commercials featured women and their body function products. There is always those embarrassing tampon commercials. Margaret Cho once made fun of a spokesperson she saw for tampons who also did feminine wash. She said, "I know more about this woman's pussy than I do my own". Yikes! I think the ads which feature a daughter telling her mother about an itch is rather humorous myself. Is it something that you bring up during lunch or while trying on shoes at Bloomingdales? "What do you think of this color? Would this go with that evening gown I wore at the Jone's anniversary party? I plan to wear it again for Jill's engagement announcement. Oh and by the way, I couldn't wear pantyhose today. I have this itch, this irritating scratch that would just be exacerbated by the extra covering. What should I do?". I know that mother and daughter relationships are based on a lot of sharing, but even that?

Can you imagine a father son ad about jock itch? Men do tend to talk about things like that. But to make the commercial more realistic, they would have to use a lot of mono-syllabic grunts and curse words. So I don't think Proctor and Gamble, Johnson and Johnson or any other major company could pull it off. It would go something like this..."Shit...I'm not even wearing fucking underwear and it still itches. Ready to take a jack-hammer to the damn thing. Do you have any of that uh prickly heat powder?". The scene would be two guys sitting by a barbecue grill drinking beer. Neither one would be smiling and there would be no introductory sharing of emotions. Straight to the point. Not that the chicks don't get straight to the point.. but the commercial hides a little bit of the embarrassment behind a pretty backdrop and very well dressed women either having tea or lunch.

The funniest commercial I have seen is the erectile dysfunction one. I know everyone has see this commercial. They show a guy, smiling making his way thru the crowd. He's actually pushing his way thru the crowd to get to his wife, girlfriend, or mistress. They don't explain the relationship of the couple. Anyway, after bulldozing his way thru the party and making a b-line to the anxiously awaiting lady, he gets to her, smiles and the scene fades to black. The overhead voice says something about "get back your life". They had to cut, cause the next line would have been.."It's kicking in and I'm semi-hard now. Wanna go to the car or borrow one of their bedrooms". You know in reality that is how the scene would have ended. The guy had a big smile on his face, and the caught seventh grade look of "don't send me to the blackboard right now. I don't want to stand up".

If they really want to sell something. Just come to the point and say what it is they need to sell. Like Oliver's review of the car (, it's more entertaining. It more memorable and truthful!

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Whatever Comes to Mind

I usually have a lot to say, except for when I purposely want to say something important. What I mean is, when I'm engaged in a conversation with someone, my thoughts, perceptions and opinions usually form after that person has left. Last night while falling asleep, I had the perfect topic to write about today. Where is that topic? It seeped out during slumber and quickly faded by the time my feet shuffled to the bathroom for that morning bladder draining.
When Saritha and I converse, topics bubble over, I froth at the mouth with opinions. Of course, they are random, overflow like mispoured champagne, and don't follow a course. Any word or phrase from her can conjure up miles of uncharted territory in my cerebellar hemisphere. The only other people that have the ability to dig up forgotten thoughts are Lilly (a.k.a. Mulan) and Ben. Somehow talking with them gives me diarrhea of the mouth--spastic tetany of the tongue. But when I go to use this as blog entry or even in other relevant conversations, my mouth becomes paralyzed. I can't form a thought or opinion. I know what I want to say, but can't seem to verbalize it. So on first meeting, people think me conventional, conservative, and basically boring. A second meeting, one of more comfort will open doors to other parts of my psyche.
I wish there were some sort of potion that could tap this vast wasteland of knowledge that I have. What seems to baffle me is the knowledge that is stored. I can remember all the lines from "Friends" even information about their lives given in conversation, but I can't remember important knowledge--where the DMV is located or even the name of the mayor of my hometown. Is that pathetic? I guess the fact that Rachel's middle name is Karen and that one of her sister's wants to decorate her father's new condo with wicker is worth storing among my many gyri and sulci. Go figure!
To end this entry, which started cause I couldn't remember what I intended to write...I guess I'll just end it, otherwise I'll just be publishing nothing.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Strip Search

The other night, my best friend Saritha and talked on the phone, and as usual lost track of time. This always seems to happen whenever we talk. And we don't talk about anything relevant really. If our phones were being tapped, the person listening would end up saying that we were idiotic, trivial and to quote Winnie the Pooh:"willy, nilly, silly old bears". But we cut our conversation short because I'm trying to re-do my circadian rhythm so that I'm up by 7, but still get 8 hours a night of sleep.
After I got off the phone, I couldn't sleep. Something about talking to her gets me all riled up. I should have called her back, but that would have kept us chatting till 3 a.m. So I picked up the remote and flipped thru the channels. I ended up on this movie called "Strip Search". Thinking that it was probably a movie with Elizabeth Berkley (a.k.a Jessie Spano from Saved By The Bell), I stopped flipping and watched.
It was movie made after 9/11. The movie showed two settings--one in China, the other in New York. Both scenes were happening at the same time and in both versions the same thing was happening. An American girl was being detained in China and questioned, while a Middle-Eastern man was questioned in New York. The same questions for both, same treatment. The whole point of the movie was to hit home that the very act of terrorism had heightened our alert to such a degree that basic human rights were forgotten, that a form of freedom was given up in order to regain freedom. The people had been detained based on an inkling that they were involved in some activity. One of the questions asked of the American girl played by Maggie Gyllenhaal was "Have you ever been disloyal to the government, spoken badly about it?". She replied, "It's not being disloyal, it's dissent". This angered whoever was questioning her and implicated her for further questioning. Both subjects were continually questioned for their "dissent".
In the beginning of the movie, a classroom was asked, "To end terrorism, how long would you give up your freedom". I think because of terrorism and it's selfish acts, we have already given up some of that freedom. Hopefully the American soldiers will get it back for us.

Monday, May 17, 2004

The Right Moves

Recently one of my really good friends asked if it was alright for a girl to make the first move. She was wondering whether or not it would make her a Hoe to ask a certain guy out. My answer to her was to go for it.

She tossed and turned about this for several days or maybe it was hours. And then she took the advice of another friend and sent a text message. The ending was happy so far... he is interested in going for a cup of coffee. Well at least he said yes to her offer to meet at a cafe.

Nothing in todays etiquette says that a girl has to have a certain demeanor. We've certainly come a long way Virginia Slims (remember that cigarette ad?). I would hate to think that a person's goal in life is learn how to make finger foods and cross their legs properly. According to "Mona Lisa Smiles", this was the livlihood of the elite 50's woman. I watched this flick yesterday. Although it is a definite cheesy chick flick, it was rather entertaining to think that women were once molded this way. The movie had some cheese, but grilled cheese on sour dough with tomato soup, so it wasn't that much of waste. Still it competes with the Skinemax late at night flicks.

There really isn't a right or wrong in a first move situation. Just a "could have been". And you really don't want any of those.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Harry's Cocktail Party

Last night I went to see Harry Connick, Jr in concert. Yes this famous lounge singing Louisianna native husband of Jill Goodacre father of three paid a visit to Charleston, West Virginia. One of my good friends talked me into going and I'm glad that she did.
I first saw Harry Connick, Jr in concert in New York back in the 90's. Another friend had also talked me into going. In fact if I remember correctly, we told her parents that the concert was not in New York City itself, but a little outside of the city.
Anyway, I enjoyed the concert, despite the music. Don't get me wrong, Harry is a definite genius on the piano. He has a way of making those old songs that are familiar to me only because of road trips with my parents sound groovy. But on top of that, he is a real entertainer. He danced, shared stories and invited everyone to rush the stage. So it really wasn't like being at a concert,but in his living room.
I think the reason his concert was so entertaining was the fact that he was extremely personable. I felt like he was "talking and sharing" with me. Thanks Harry for a great time!

Friday, May 14, 2004

Porn--Need I Say Anymore

Last night I watched some soft-porn on Showtime and Cinemax. As I sat watching these people pretend to do it, I wondered what kind of person would actually audition for these parts. Does an actor or actress actually train or even aspire to become one of these acting icons? I might be able to understand someone who does the "hard core" stuff sold in sleazy Adult Shops. These are the strung out lost souls who are either addicted to drugs or just in need of money (doesn't flipping burgers or digging ditches mean anything anymore?). I can't actually imagine anyone who would want to do this because they think they would actually get an Oscar or break into Hollywood.

Anyway, being sidetracked my the morality of it all. This soft-porn has a lame attempt with a story line. Most of these story lines include a detective, an affair and a murder of some sort. The actors all look like they have been taking GNC products and working out only their upper bodies. All of the actresses have great milk containers. As pretty as the package may be, they can't deliver script lines. A blunt object must have hit most of these actors and actresses in the head. Judging from their acting, they would not pass any Mini-Mental Status exam. It's like they are zombies, robotic in their performance.

Aside from the lack of delivering their lines. I think many of them were trained by the Chinese acrobatic company. Is it really possible to have sex in some of those positions? Since it is soft-porn, most of these scenes aren't real. Let's face it, the chick is sitting on the guys belly button while arching her back. The guy is bumping too high up on her ass to really be inserted in any orifice. But all the rolling around and the different Kama Sutra positions, I don't think that could actually be comfortable. It doesn't look fun.

I'm going to end the conversation here. The fact that I turned into one of these shows, watched it from beginning to end and then even thought to write about it, is very scary.

Thursday, May 13, 2004


Last night I went to a chatroom, just to chat. I didn't want anything else but idle chat or ramble. Isn't that what these rooms are created for anyway? To chat?

I was in for a surprise. Not five minutes after I entered the room, I was IM'ed by several people asking for A/S/L--age, sex, location. Following my response to that, they then asked for vital stats (height, weight, color of hair, eyes and skin). Once I answered those obligatory questions, I was then asked would I be willing to travel for a rendevouz or to meet. And then some even asked "how discreet could I be because they were married". I didn't even get to chat. I was too busy being grilled with twenty questions.

I just wanted to chat and get some ideas for this blog. You know something to write about...the way the world thinks today or what people do for fun. I was thinking about writing about "Chatrooms"--the new way of meeting people. But it really isn't a new way. I just realized it's the same as being in a bar or party. The same questions get asked, the same sort of rejection takes place and the same sleaziness is still around. Some of these people have no shame--maybe it's because being in a chatroom offers some anonymity. You can't see who is rejecting you, you will never have to look them in the eye and no one else knows you are being rejected. It still stings though to be rejected for being a 5'4" Asian man. Yikes, high school prom date dilemma memory brought back in full thrust! By the way, my first prom date ended up being a little taller than me. Since I couldn't find a date till one week before prom started, I was stuck with a powder blue ruffled tuxedo--very Fez on "That 70's Show". Not a pretty picture. It's hidden very well in the attic.

Every type of room is a pick-up joint. Even the Christian belief rooms have some sort of flirting going on. "I just read in the bible that we are to be fruitful and multiply. What do you feel about reproduction?". When said in that manner, what nice girl from Kansas could refuse. It isn't your ordinary pick-up line. There are some rooms aptly named Romance rooms--and even these are broken down to categories like age, location, divorced, single, couples, lesbian, gay, and single parents. There are rooms that are created to give a bar/club type atmosphere, although I don't understand how that would work. I stumbled into one and one chick kept saying "I'm so drunk! I'm so drunk!". I have no idea what she was trying to achieve.It worked as a sorority girl mating call in college, but on a computer screen? I looked at her profile, but that gave me no information. Then there are the freaky rooms like "S&M". Very kinky. It does make me wonder how acrobatic these people really are. How are they able to type and pleasure themselves at the same time? From what I could read was going on, a lot of people were pleasuring themselves in that room.

The other thing that amazes me are the chatters who are willing to invite you into their homes via web-cam. A new world of voyeurism. Most people just open their web cams to anyone who wants to take a peek. First of all, if I were sitting at home in my boxer shorts on some night of the week, I would not want the public to view this. Not only do I look like an oompa-loompa, but I just don't think the masses would find this in anyway appealing. Some of the web-cam invites are teasers. I clicked onto one--I think her name was Jenny--out of sheer curiosity. She appeared for about five minutes than a screen came up asking for my visa-card number to continue viewing Jenny. No thanks. How do I explain to the visa people why my bill was charged by Jenny?

I might stumble into those chatrooms again. But I won't be in my boxer shorts. I won't be offering to meet someone on some random exit, Howard-Johnsons, or state rest stop. I'll be in there for the sole purpose of the room--to chat!

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

For almost 30 years now, my family has gotten together with several other Filipino familes to pray novenas (nine days of prayers). We started some 30 years ago doing the St. Nino Novena at Christmas time. The prayer would be held in different homes for nine days, the last night being on Christmas. This tradition has now spread into a weekly prayer for St. Anthony. We still continue to do the St. Nino novena at Christmas, but we have added the St. Anthony weekly prayer into our routine.

When we first started doing the prayers, I was in awe. As a child, religion can be a scary issue. Since my family is strict Catholic, some of our punishments consisted of kneeling in front of the alter and praying for forgiveness. At a young age, I associated religion with punishment. These novenas were then a way to redeem myself and get back in the good graces of God. As I further began to understand the prayers, I realized that these novenas were a way to ask for help from God. So then it became an issue of "please help me pass this class" or what have you. The once yearly novena was a time I could ask for complete intervention. And by His grace, my prayers were mostly answered.

I then went through a phase in which religion was an embarrassment. These prayers to an outsider (mostly my friends) could be perceived as ritualistic or even pagan like. In rebellion, I attended them less or just sat thru the service hoping that none of my friends would call or drop by. I didn't realize the power of prayer until I fell away from it. Little by little, and as I started growing up, I realized that a lot of my Filipino culture was steeped in the Catholic religion. These gatherings became a way to celebrate that culture. It was a way for our parents to get together and hold onto something that they had left behind.

As I reminisce about the prayers gone by, I think about our extended families. I remember all the talks we had, the laughter and of course pain (is this sounding like the back cover of a cheesy novel?). These prayer groups have now extended into a new generation as most of us have grown up and brought new families into the circle. There is a new generation of children. I wonder how they feel about these "ritualistic" ceremonies. They are now the ones leading the prayers.

I went to our Tuesday prayer meeting yesterday. I hadn't gone in so long. It was great seeing everyone again. I see them on a regular basis, but it was great to see them all gathered here for this purpose. I realized that the prayers were for the well being of our families. All of our families have stuck together thru thick and thin. We have leaned on one another and have used one another as a shelter from the storms. The prayers were a way for us to deal with problems and to draw strength from one another and from God. Mostly I realized that these prayer rituals were a way for us to express how much we need God and one another. It's our way of coping with whatever loop we get thrown into. And I think that I have become a better person because of it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

A Book By It's Cover

I'm listening to the AIDA soundtrack (yeah, yeah, I know). Anyway, one of the compositions on it, "My Stongest Suit" reveals the insecurities of one of the characters. She uses fashion to hide behind her perceived misgivings. Quite a song.

I must say, I have judged many a book by its cover. The books I check out first are the ones that most notably displayed, on the shelves with the most interesting set-up or decor. This has served me well so far. I haven't yet read a book with a cool cover that I didn't like. I also read books recommended to me by people who I have judged as well read. While other people who suggest summer reading to me have been ignored because I didn't find their personalities the slightest bit interesting. This is one of my more superficial idiosyncracies.It is of my many dysfunctional aspects, which you will soon discover while reading my blog.

The worst is, my judge of character based upon presentation. I told my Kaplan review roommate (the Step Two course) that I had already picked out who I was going to talk to in our class based upon the way they looked on our first day of class (yes, I've got a little bit of a John Hughes teenage movie character in me). I didn't really pick my study buddies that way, but I did assess who would probably be interesting based on their flair for fashion. It was those people were approached first, although by the end of the course, I had become friends with almost everyone. My roommate had just laughed it off and thought it was "funny". Thank God he didn't perceive me as a snobby shallow person. In the end I found that beyond the GQ Magazine exterior, all of the people I had met were far more interesting than their wardrobe. Because they had all studied in school abroad, they were also well rounded and cultured. I'm also glad that most people don't judge me by my wardrobe. My favorite attire is my worn-out overalls. They are comfy and in a way suit my personality. I've always believed that comfort is key. And if you are comfortable with yourself it completely shows in your exterior presentation.

Monday, May 10, 2004

A Powerful Mind

On Sunday, I watched a show about prison guard vs prison inmate role play. The experiment was conducted in California during the 70's. Those students who were chosen to become prison guards transitioned from normal thinking students into power mongers with no regard for the feelings of the inmates.

They tied the story into the recent picutres of prison life in Iraq. It was the first time I saw the pictures which were snuck out and published. I couldn't believe my was the way people had described it to me. The female guard (who I heard was from West Virginia) was smiling (thumbs' up and all) while standing in front of tortured inmates. Not only was she smiling, but she also had a satisfied look on her face, much like a person on spring break. Her family had made excuses "she was forced to pose like that". It makes me wonder how one can pose like that when forced to--smile with a twinkle in your eyes.

I know that the war was waged in an effort to stop terrorism. However to take prisoners and treat them inhumanely defeats the whole purpose of the battle. Having suffered due to the horrific events of 9/11, I don't feel that we should also inflict the same pain on our enemies. An eye for an eye is not the answer. Idealistically friendly negotiating will not work either. But to take prisoners and inflict such pain on them is heartless. To carry-on with such tactics is stoop to the terrorists levels. I believe that we are better than that. I do have faith that the American government was unaware of such senseless acts of violence. I'm hoping that it wasn't carried out acts of violence, but like in the experiments created by the psychology class, it was over zealous acts by soldiers with too much control and power.

No matter what, I do believe that all people are good at the core of their hearts. We just need to find a way to touch that core.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Welcome To Our World, Welcome to Our World, Welcome to Our World of Toys!

The theme from Fao Schwartz.

Do I sound selfish when I ask why there isn't a children's day? I mean we celebrate fathers, mothers, grandparents, presidents and even secretaries. But I don't recall there ever being a bonafide Children's Day. It isn't for the presents. It's to celebrate the fact that children have survived the tolls of being someone's child. I'm not downplaying the role of parents in the upbringing and raising of their child. But I'm saying that the good children should be rewarded for being that--good. A child should be recognized for bringing happiness into their parents lives. They should be recognized for being a joy.

Many people forget that it's hard to live up to a parent's expectations. It's difficult to try and follow someone else's ideals, morals and views while trying to discover themselves. Oh the pressure. I'm speaking of course about being an Asian child! I'm not stereo-typing or even trying to create an image in your head concerning typical Asian life. It does seem to me that most Asian children have a lot of pressure put on them to "excel" or to "get ahead". Then there is the pressure of holding onto culture, while assimilating into American society. Don't even get me started on that issue. And for most Asian children, it becomes not only our duty, but our sole purpose in be an object of glory for our parents. We will never stop being their "children". Even when we have children of our own, we still must obey and live up to their expectations.

So why don't we have a Children's Day?

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Friends Don't Let Friends Study and Drive

I'm slowly breaking my scheduled routine of study. For the last six weeks my ass has been in a chair listening to a lecture from 8am to 5pm daily (including Sundays--but not Saturday as most of our lecturers keep holy the Sabbath). After the lectures, my roommate and a few of our friends would gather in a study room and do a block of USMLE style questions--timed of course and then we would have an open discussion about the answers. Very productive six weeks. The course has now ended and now I'm home. What is it about being in your childhood environment that suddenly makes you regress or become lazy again? Is there something magical potion in the air that makes you feel protected or dissociated from the real world?

My friend and I have discussed numerous occasions in which we both feel that being at home isn't ideal for a medical graduate studying for their boards. It isn't. I know that my parents are trying to help out. My father knows the drill---he is a physician and had to study for these boards too. He does give me my space. My mother of course tries to be overbearingly helpful. She is constantly telling me to eat--"you are studying, you need food for your brain". Thank you for the concern, but deep fried egg rolls isn't exactly fuel for the cerebral hemispheres. I'm not blaming anyone for my lack of motivation--that comes from deep within. I do think however, a trance is placed on ones childhood bedroom that makes one too comfortable.

What this all boils down to is me. I'm at fault here. I just need to find that motivating factor to start studying again. I've been back for only a few days. In that few days, my study hours have dwindled. I'm doing less questions daily. It's pathetic. I will find it though.

I just need to find that rhythm again.

Friday, May 07, 2004

The End of an Era

Yesterday was the series finale of "Friends". This show took me thru my undergrad biology degree and then thru medical school. I'm really going to miss this show. And yes, as predictable as the ending was, they could not leave Ross and Rachel apart.

We all have a group of friends in our lives that mimic the ficitional characters of this famed television series. This is the reason that so many people tuned into the show. We all know someone as geeky as Ross (well most engineering, medical, and computer science related people do). I mean Ross as annoying as he can be, is annoying cause it touches a heart string close to home. Most of our circle of friends includes a Ross. We also have a Monica, that bossy person who needs to organize even the simplest get-togethers. Then there is Chandler--who doesn't have a friend that makes a joke out of the most morbid situations? Most of us want a friend like Phoebe--she usually lived down the hall in the dorms and wore flowy skirts and crystals. And of course a girl like Rachel--that independent chick who you never thought would live independently. Finally Joey, there is one in every bunch (male or female).
Friends made us think of the friends we had, the ones we have and even the ones we are going to make. Katie Couric read a little quote from the NBC "pitch", which I think completely summed up the gist of Friends. I can't really remember it, but it was something about people trying to make it thru life with the help of their new found family--their friends. The concept is right. For most of us, our families will always stand behind us 100%. However, there are certain issues which we can get thru only with the help of our friends. They are the people we turn to whenever our family is unavailable to us. The point of this all is friends are priceless. Friends didn't end with the closing of a story-line. They are the on-going re-runs and late night shows that will be the last thing we see at night and the first thing on in the morning.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

One More Thing--Music

I forgot to metion the other thing that irks me about these videos. The choice of music. In some of these videos the music sounds like a cross between 70's porn and made for television movie with titles like "Jenny: A Bullemia Crisis" or "Friendly Neighbor, Deadly Enemy". The music is another reason that I tire myself out before the routine is finished. I can't stand to listen to it. The choice of music should pump me to keep on going, not push me to press the mute button.
Okay--that's all for tonight. I promise.

One More Thing--Music

Oh yes, before I forget, the other thing that irks me about these videos is the choice of music. Shouldn't exercise be fun? Well the choice of music in some of these videos is a cross bewteen 70's porn and made for television movies with titles such as "Jenny: A Bullemia Crisis" or "Friendly Neighbor, Deadly Enemy". I think that is another reason I tire myself during the routine. The choice of music should pump me to keep going, not push the mute button.
Okay--that's all for tonight! I promise.

Yoga, Tae Bo, Pilates

I need to get back into shape. After weeks of sitting in a classroom from 8 till 5, my body has shown the effects. Plus I came off the Atkins diet--consisting mainly of caveman food--and started eating carbs again. Mostly because it was easier and gosh darn I just craved them again. So this intense carb hunger and the sedimentary lifestyle of someone studying for the medical boards has now created a pocket of bulge around my waistline. It isn't appealing. Because I'm vertically challenged, the extra weight makes me look like an Umpa-Lumpa cast reject. I've decided that today will be my last day of eating poorly and laziness.
Over the year I've collected different exercise DVD's--anywhere from Tae Bo (because it's more macho to kick and punch) to Pilates (because if you do a mental work-out while exercising--my USMLE scores will reflect the strength of my mind). All of them I've done for at least a week till I exhausted of hearing the Tae Bo coach scream out "just one more set of kicks"-at which point I wanted to kick my foot thru the screen to the Yoga coach say "just bend really easy this way...see your body should be relaxed and your mind should be flowing with energy"--my mind was screaming "as a medical student you know the muscles aren't suppose to contort this way" while my body was screaming "get your testicles away from your sternum". And now because my pants are screaming "let out the button", I must go back to one of these exercise routines.
I've already decided that I'm not going back to Atkins. Way too much protein for me and it made me tired during my study period. I was thinking of fat free. One of my Kaplan classmates said he maintained his weight that way. I'm also going to eat more vegetables. That should help with the cleansing out my system.
I chronicle my eating habits and exercise habits. If it works, maybe I can come up with a video of my own.

Commit a Random Act of Kindness

My really good friend sent me a quote out of Victor Hugo's:

"Since it is given to no one whatsoever to escape the dream, let us accept it. Only let us try to have the right one. Men hate, are brutes, fight, lie; leave their dream unto the shadows. But share you your bread with little children, see that no one goes about you with naked feet, look kindly upon mothers nursing their children on the doorsteps of humble cottages, walk through the world without malevolence, do not knowingly crush the humblest flower, respect the needs of birds, bow to the purple from afar and to the poor at close range. Rise to labor, go to rest with prayer, go to sleep in the unknown, having for your pillow the infinite; love, believe, hope, live; be like him who has a watering pot in his hand, only let your watering pot be filled with good deeds and good words; never be discouraged, be magi and be father, and if you have lands cultivate them, and if you have sons rear them, and if enemies bless them - and with that sweet and unobtrusive authority that comes to the soul in patient expectation of the eternal dawn."

Nice isn't it? Every beauty contestant, politician, minister, priest, rabbi, and churchgoer on bended knee all agree that we should live in peace. Maybe one of the reasons that we don't, is that we forgot our dreams or even ignore them. We wake up struggling only to survive for ourselves, neglecting another's pursuit of survival.
I have watched Les Miserables the musical several times, each time walking away with a new message. The first time I watched it, I was dizzy trying to keep up with the story line. My cousin and roommate Sue had the soundtrack and listened to it frequently and so in time I learned the music. The second time I saw Les Miserables I was able to grasp the message--simple but strong. Random acts of kindness, no matter how desolate the surroundings, will endure. Kindness survives, not the acts of strength or power. The characters who had the purest of heart, survived. The main character who lived his life in utter kindness was represented as the strongest of all. And his "kindness" lived on.

Show some kindness today, even if it's just your smile!

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Dear Diary,
Hello, my name is Angel. I shall call you Diary for lack of a better name. I'm going to write in you every day and let you know how I'm feeling, how the world makes me feel and what I think the world should be like. We shall become the best of friends and I shall write about the worst of my enemies--my unstable emotions mainly--after all isn't emotion the worst of our enemies? It makes us act out in the most irrational way. It clouds our views, even the most simplistic ones. Most of all, it takes over the whole psyche. No matter how simple the solution, emotion will take us from A to Z by way of Albequerque.