Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Back To The M:TG Grind

.:Or Not:.

Kind of difficult to say I'm going back to the grind when in reality, I have never extended this much effort in Magic: The Gathering before. Only now have I ever actually found myself seriously playing and actually making it far in tournaments like last weekend's Last Chance Qualifiers for the World Magic Cup Qualifiers, or a huge 37-man tournament for Legacy with a foil Liliana of the Veil on the line.

Pictured: hard, nerdy work.

In any case, I've been doing a lot of playing lately, and that's really been paying off for me. Won an LCQ and could have tried out for the National Team, won countless Modern tournaments, did mostly the same in Vintage and Legacy, and so on and so forth. Overall, I've been on quite a roll, and it's been showing in the fact that I've been consistently placing in every tournament I've shown up in, and I'm even beginning to make some headway with Lantern Control, which is really one of the decks to watch right now.

In any case, that's all I could really say for now. It's good to be gaming this much again, seriously.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

2 Hot 4 8List: 8 Questions I Always Get Asked About Marriage Equality

.:2 Hot 4 8List: 8 Questions I Always Get Asked About Marriage Equality:.

I try my best to be a moderate when it comes to my personal opinions. Most people know what they are, but I try my best not to be combative about them when I encounter someone who doesn't share the same opinion as I. This blog post will not be as charitable, because I've allowed a lot of people to get in their myopic jabs on the topic for long enough. This hopefully addresses most of those so-called issues they raise.

Here now are 8 questions I always get asked about marriage equality, especially in light of the recent SCOTUS ruling that recognizes LGBT marriage to be on the same legal footing as heterosexual marriage.

8. Why are the LGBT redefining marriage? 

First of all, marriage has been redefined so many times over the centuries that it's not even funny anymore. The idea that marriage is a union of love has been a fairly recent idea. There isn't really a "traditional" marriage, to begin with. Otherwise, all rape survivors will be required to marry their aggressor, just as the Bible stated.

In its current form, aside from the idea of one person loving another person for the rest of their life, marriage is understood to also come with concurrent rights. These rights are the crux of what marriage equality advocates are fighting for. It's something under the domain of the government, and in the case of the Philippines and America, the government is supposedly a secular one. What this means is simple: defining marriage as "biblical marriage," while not only problematic because of how the Bible itself defines marriage, also alienates the people who are not subscribers to the Bible.

TL;DR - marriage can stay the same for your church, but the government, in the interest of equal rights for all, needs to reassess marriage in order to live up to this secular ideal.

7. Why are the LGBT forcing people to bake them wedding cakes? How is this equality?

Oh. You mean that story in America of how a gay couple sued a bakery for refusing to bake them a cake for their wedding, then subsequently got awarded over $100,000 in damages afterwards?

First of all, you might not have read the entire story: this bakery didn't just "politely" decline this couple, they also doxxed (that is, they released the identity and private information) of these people when they complained about being refused service. People gloss over this fact, yet when you realize that the doxxing caused them anguish (they were given death threats) and extended that anguish to their adopted kids (they were also given death threats), suddenly, it doesn't seem like the bakery was fined nearly enough for what they did.

There's nothing "polite" about calling people an "abomination," okay? This is every bit as manipulative as saying that the old lady who sued McDonald's over their coffee was being frivolous (she received 3rd degree burns, not just some booboo someone can kiss to go away).

Also, remember how big a deal it was when people would refuse service to black people? Well, why would it suddenly be okay to refuse service to gay people just because? Are they not entitled to the same rights as black people in the first place?

Nobody was demanding this bakery to get gay married or to preside over the gay marriage of a couple that they already did business with before, prior to finding out about their orientation. That's plain discrimination, and it boggles the mind how people could think that discrimination is okay just because you claim that your God told you so. "God" has "told" people to do the Crusades. "Allah" has "told" extremists to fly a couple of planes into the World Trade Center. None of this was cool. A "lesser" offense hung on the same conceit isn't, either.

6. Why am I being called a bigot for not sharing the same opinion about LGBT marriage? My freedom of speech is being impinged!

First of all, when someone calls you a bigot, they are also exercising their free speech. We see a lot of people confused with that all the time, including certain bloggers who block people who call them out on their hypocrisy when they start cyber-lynching someone.

Still applicable, huh?

Secondly, let's get one thing straight here: your freedom to say whatever you want doesn't mean you are going to be free from consequences. If you lose your job because you went on a racist tirade, I'm sorry, but that's the consequence of you exercising your freedom of speech. Just ask Hulk Hogan, even if I feel bad for the guy.

To be fair, he's too orange to be a white supremacist.

If you can't take the heat, then get out of the kitchen. The only thing freedom of speech entails is that you won't be arrested by the government for saying whatever, although in the Philippines, we don't even have that level of freedom, since libel is a criminal offense here. Just ask Fashion Pulis.

Don't confuse our Philippine laws with American laws. This isn't an argument about tradition but legality.

Lastly, when you call someone an "abomination," do you even think being a "bigot" is remotely comparable to what you just called an LGBT person? Learn to check your privilege before you make these kinds of complaints, because you're working from the assumption that nothing is wrong with insulting the very being of an LGBT person by calling them an "abomination" all because your "God" "told" you so.

5. So does this mean I can't believe that God doesn't approve of LGBT marriage anymore?

Of course not! You're free to keep believing this, the same way some people still believe that slavery, or women's suffrage, or interracial marriage are all horrible things God would shun, too.

What you can't do, though, is to conflate your religious beliefs with the legal demand for equal rights for everyone, including LGBT people, to marry the one they love, who just so happen to have the same genitals as they do.


Your church can continue to never marry LGBT couples to each other, but if the government decides marriage equality is a thing, you can't pretend that the law has to conform to your religion, because it doesn't work that way.

4. Why does this matter so much to you if you're straight?

Well, wow. I didn't realize that empathy is a bad thing now! Do I even need to dignify this question with an answer?

3. Aren't you afraid of Sodom and Gomorrah happening to us if we let marriage equality happen?

No. No, I'm not afraid of Sodom and Gomorrah, because Canada has had marriage equality for a decade now, and they're doing pretty okay. And why does your God turn into the hellfire and brimstone version only when it comes to gay marriage, but He's all loving and kind and benevolent and forgiving when it's little crimes like murder or rape or plunder? That's mighty selective, don't you think?

You also might want to read up on why Sodom and Gomorrah was actually condemned in the first place. You might be surprised how little it had to do with homosexuality.

2. So what next? We can now do polygamy? Incest? Bestiality? Marry kids off to pedophiles?

Well, that escalated quickly. It's very clear that the premise of marriage equality is that two consenting adults decide to spend the rest of their lives with each other. All three of these words are integral to the definition of marriage equality. Animals can't legally give consent. Kids are obviously not adults and can't legally give consent, either. Consent is fuzzy when there are power dynamics in play with blood relatives, such as mother vs son, etc. In polygamous situations, the transfer of rights is ridiculously complicated, but if the law were able to dynamically adapt, then so long as all parties involved are consenting, why should it be legally disallowed?

Some Muslims already marry multiple women, as it stands. The reason that marriage equality advocates aren't particularly happy about this is that it's clear that the male is dominant in this setup, and as such, implies there's little "equality" to be expected in the first place.

Ultimately, when two gay people marry each other, how would this affect you? It doesn't. So let them mind their own business as you mind yours. Nobody is forcing you to get married to the same gender.

1.If the LGBT are asking for tolerance, why can't they tolerate people who don't want to tolerate them? Shouldn't they give it before they ask for it?

Tolerance of intolerance is self-defeating, and accomplishes nothing. It also reeks of privilege, because here, we demand the LGBT kowtow to our feelings while we refuse to give even a semblance of respect to theirs. The LGBT are fighting for equality. If we can legally marry the one we love, why can't they? If we can stay in the ICU with our spouse as they lay there in critical condition, why can't they? The law is the great equalizer that levels the playing field for when there is an inherent disadvantage for a marginalized class.

This is why it's so ludicrous to wonder why straight people don't have any "straight pride" parades,  because they don't need one. Nobody is oppressing them systematically for being straight. It's also why nobody is particularly impressed when Tim Tebow professes his Christianity. This is the norm. This is the default. How is this a shocker? When people tell him to "keep it to himself," does it ever stop him from professing his faith? Of course not. It doesn't even stop him from continuing to express his beliefs in public, because freedom of speech allows him to keep doing it, just as much as his critics are enabled by the very same freedom.

Not pictured: a fair comparison.

On the other hand, when you see someone like Caitlyn Jenner come out as a transgendered woman (who is still very much into women, by the way), you will see people praise her because it takes guts to do that, and let's not pretend she didn't get any negative backlash for it. She certainly did.

It's all about false equivalence, and privilege. When you have the luxury of living your life normally without people condemning you for the religion you happen to belong to and for the sexual orientation you happen to possess, it becomes difficult to see why it takes courage when someone who doesn't subscribe to the norm has to come forward and express themselves.

In short, Christians, you are not the persecuted class in this story. I understand how nice it is to pretend you're the underdog, but between a bunch of people who get called "abominations" with regularity, and a bunch of people who have to stretch the definition of "oppression" to claim it, I think it's easy to see who's really being persecuted. You're Floyd Mayweather. You're John Cena. You're the '96-'98 Chicago Bulls. Any backlash you get is because people know you're going to win in the end, and there's nothing wrong with that: you're just being who you are.

When the dust has settled, marriage equality doesn't affect you if you have zero plans of getting married to someone of the same gender. So why should it be any of your business if the government, the one that's supposed to protect everyone, and not just you, eventually decides that gay people are deserving of the equal rights they should have gotten in the first place?

You don't get to debate human rights, because they're just that: human rights.

And in the end, in all this hoopla about the "dignity" of marriage, there is yet another oppressed minority being pushed to the side...

What about us single people? Are we not deserving of "dignity," too? Alas, that is a discussion to be had some other day.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Nothing But The Best Wishes For Nonong And Ryan Rems!

.:Shameless Not-Self-Promotion:.

Today is the Finals day for Showtime's "Funny One," and two of my friends and brothers in standup, Nonong and Ryan Rems, are in the finals!

Skelan is probably a sponsor or something.

All I can say is "thank you" to these two guys. Because you couldn't ask for nicer, more down-to-earth, and hardworking representatives for POV standup comedy than these two guys. Here's hoping that the laughs they have earned from the millions (and millions) of people watching them on television will not go unappreciated today.

We can talk about revolutions for standup comedy tomorrow. We can talk about the ramifications and the possibility of this kind of comedy invading the mainstream after over a decade of being branded as little more than "niche" some other time. Today, I would rather simply express my gratitude and support to two of my friends. It's *their* time to shine. Everything else merely follows.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Manila Improv Fest That Was

.:A Belated Look Back:.

I hate the word "Sepanx," but what could be a more appropriate thing to say here?

Admittedly, looking back at the recently-concluded Manila Improv Festival well over a week after the fact seems rather too late the hero, but I don't really mind. When it comes to this blog, I've been writing for myself for a long while now instead of for an actual audience. And that's fine.

Anyways, I think what really stood out about this particular festival is that the sense of community has really brought the people together more than ever. Were there woes and cares within each group? Yes. Were there anxieties about the quality or lack thereof of certain performances? Absolutely. Did that ruin the festival? Not by a long shot.

At the end of the day, everyone came together. Everyone gave it their best shot. Everyone had memories to recount about the Festival, and most of all, everyone is absolutely looking forward to the next one.

I could give you a blow by blow account of my favorite moments from the entire thing, but given that I'm the 8List guy, I may as well boil it down to 8 things that really stood out for me, on a personal level...

8. The Music Workshop

I will never forget Dave of the Beijing Collective for as long as I live, and one of the main reasons is probably this particular workshop. There's nothing like taking a bunch of people with a ridiculously wide range of musical skills. I have to say it was pretty memorable to be creating great music on the fly, and I can't wait to put that to use.

7. The Non-Performers

Random pictures I still managed to find. Yayyyyy.

Made a few new friends within the Festival among people who went to watch or cover the whole thing, or at least to take part in the workshops, but wasn't actually part of any of the improv groups. In fact, when it came to getting to know them, Dave (he figures a lot in my Festival memories this year) actually spurred me on to do something I don't normally do. Jury's still out on the outcome of that one, but needless to say, I've gotten that monkey off my back, at least.

Also, Tomato Kick was an awesome venue for all our crazy after-parties. No doubt, no doubt!

Special mention to Miles, who kept me company for most of the Festival during the latter half!

6. Reconnecting!

Two years ago, the Manila Improv Festival allowed me to make a lot of new friends. Seeing them again in the Festival allowed us to pick up where we left off. Whether it was enjoying the comedy stylings of the Pirates of Tokyo Bay, or just catching up with Taichung Improv who really got me into improv wayyyy back in the day by giving me my first taste of performing it, to the fact that Dennis of Taichung is a dead ringer for Jeremy Renner, to PLI's insanity, to finally hitting it off with Dave and Liz and Jay of the Beijing Collective, to seeing a super-polished Zmack! to... man, I'm bound to forget people here, but whatever. It was awesome!

5. New friends!

The Improve Company from Singapore! Bacolod Improv Group! Dulaang Ateneo from CDO! These guys are just a few of the new people I had the pleasure of getting to know over the course of the Festival, and I can't help but think how great it would be to see them again soon. Who knows? Maybe I could swing by SG sometime this year...

4. SPIT continues to lead the way!

It's easy to say that without Silly People's Improv Theatre, this entire thing would not even have existed. With 13 years of experience under their belt, I can't help but be thankful for the kindness they have shown Switch Improv over the years. Thank you, SPIT! We couldn't be more grateful for everything you've done to bring improv to the people.

3. The PiP Show

Now kiiiiissssss!!!

I never heard of "slow comedy" before these guys came along. They pretty much defined it with their performance right off the bat! While most groups can get frenetic and that pace works wonders for them, these guys were just so chill. It was really just something for the ages, and every lady in the audience was practically screaming when the two of them actually kissed onstage. And yes, one of them certainly looks like Heath Ledger. Glad you noticed.

2. The Impromafia

Making me an offer I can't refuse!

Whether it's their two-man show or their three-person Disney-esque musical that they actually debuted at the Festival, Brisbane's pride and joy, the Impromafia, were simply phenomenal. It's hard to determine which I liked more: the fact that they brought something we've never seen before to the table, or the fact that Luke reminded me so much of G.R.R. Martin. Well, let me choose both, then!

1. My home team

Still making a scene wherever we go.

It's been three years, but let's face it: when the chips are down Switch Improv has always had each other's backs. There's pretty much nothing I could ask for more in this world of entertainment, where years of loyalty can be forgotten in an instant because of petty egocentricity and ridiculous entitlement. I get none of that from Switch Improv. All I get are a bunch of people who care. Who care too much than to stay complacent. Who care too much than to say nothing. And it's that caring I've come to associate with the world of improv, and why no matter what, I get sent to a happier place when I'm there. 

I don't need perfection or unbridled harmony. All I need are people who care. And that's why this team came together in the first place.

While I wish I could have been far more detailed in recounting my fond memories of the 2015 Manila Improv Festival, all I know is that it was definitely one for the ages, and it reminds me why I've always loved the improv community that Switch has been a part of for the past three years.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

That Sinking Feeling...

.:That Sinking Feeling:.

There was so much I wanted to talk about. With how the Manila Improv Festival ended the other day, I was still feeling this kind of elation that was all over me, but I guess these things really weren't meant to last, were they?

Now that I've snapped back to reality, I realize I have to get away from it all for a while. I've been burnt out by the world of standup. I've worked too hard in the world of improv. I have very little left in me to keep going, and I know that I have to stop. Breathe. Think. And slow down.

There's so much I have to do next. There's so much I have to cover next. But ultimately, the great equalizer is the fact that I have hope, no matter what the circumstances are. Or I had it. I don't know. It feels like it really refuses to stick with me, so here I am, just dealing with another fallout I never counted on.

I've always been awkward. I've always been shy. Despite being a performer by trade, there's just something about trying to approach people and making myself known, that attempt at breaking the veil of anonymity, that terrifies me. Because while I like being applauded when I'm onstage, I also like my moments of quiet when I need them. Approaching people tends to jeopardize that.

So it came to pass that I saw a moment enter my life, and I didn't want it to pass me by. With a knowing nod from my friend Dave, I made a leap of faith. I said some things I don't normally say. I did some things I don't normally do. Not for any hope or agenda. Not for some misguided sense of entitlement that this would yield results. But only because I wanted to make sure I didn't let the moment pass me by. I didn't want to sit down there and ask myself if I could have. 

I had to, you see. I really had to.

It seemed right. It seemed like it was the best way to go about it. And as I've always been, I was wrong. In as quickly as it began, it may have fizzled out just like that, too. And I don't even know where to begin picking myself up. Not for anything, but because once again, I blew it. I ruined it for myself. If I ever wonder from time to time why I'm not happy at a particular point in my life, the reason usually just so happens to be myself. And it disgusts me.

So where do I go from here? Do I get a do-over? Or are we simply going to go with "no take backsies," and that's that? The worst part of this whole episode is I can't even blame anyone but myself for it. I blew it. I screwed it up. Because as always has been the case, my stupid mouth has got me in trouble. I said too much again.

So I'm sorry. I'm sorry I blew it. And if this chapter has to end as abruptly as it begun, I guess I just have to live with that.

Is it too soon to say these things? Is it too soon to feel this way? I can't help but have that sinking feeling that it isn't. This is merely just the latest in a successive string that affirms the pattern. It's not too soon: it's in fact too late.

But please... if you ever asked me why I did what I did, I just need you to know one thing: when something comes into your life and you feel something you've never felt before, when it inspires you to do something you've never done before, when it calls you to say something you've never said before, then there's something there.

I may no longer ever find out what that something was, but it was there.

Bakit ko iaasa sa hangin? Bakit ko ipapaubaya na lang sa tadhana? Sa bagay na hindi ko makita o mahawakan? Bakit hindi ko hahabulin, aamuhin, lulundagin, kung maaaring pagsisihan ko ang paglampas ng sandali?

Pasensya na. Sawa na akong kumiling sa kapalaran.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

After The Dust Has Settled From ToyCon 2015...

.:Didja Miss Me?:.

Well, I missed you.

I haven't blogged in months, and it's easy to understand why, what with all the places I'm writing for professionally. Recently saw my work not just in the 8List, but even in UNO, my consultancy, and a few other places I didn't expect to end up writing for. It's been a whirlwind. A whirlwind that went undocumented like a huge gap in my life or something, but a whirlwind I really have to be thankful for, regardless.

Toycon 2015 is pretty much the perfect point for me to (try) jumping back on the blogging wagon, because it was definitely a great experience hosting Toycon after being out of circulation in the cons circles for a while. And what a way to come right back! First off, I was paired with a debuting host in Rence David, who is a natural onstage!

Something about this year's Toycon was just so positive, so smooth-sailing, that it really felt so easy to just jump onstage and do our thing this year. The audience was unbelievably hot even after Alodia and the cosplay competitions were already long done, which is something I don't think I've ever experienced before.

On top of that, the segments really did bring the goods to the crowd! You had something as simple as the Minions showing up onstage causing an immediate feeding frenzy...


You also had the dance number by Doraemon, and the rambunctious Damulag...

The mascots were pretty huge.

Then you had, of course, the cosplay competition(s), and even I got in on the fun, for once...

Follow the buzzards, 'Arry.

Considering that this was Toycon's swan song in Megatrade Hall, it was pretty clear sir Cholo, sir Vic, Az, and the rest really pulled out all the stops to make it a very memorable event. It was pretty fun when Alodia even went and challenged the audience to beat her in Mortal Kombat X at her booth. I would've taken her up on the challenge, but alack and alas, hosting duties were in the way.

And, oh, a couple of fun facts:

1. Ashley's "Thinking Out Loud" cover was played a total of 12 times on Saturday and Sunday. This was still significantly less than the amount of times you would hear the Ed Sheeran original on the air during its peak.

2. "Watch Me Nae Nae" was used onstage for skits and performances a total of 7 times in two days. I learned to hate the song about the second time in, although the metal version almost makes up for it. Too bad nobody used that.

It was a great time reconnecting with old friend and even making a few new ones. It's also fun to note that #TitoJokes were all the rage over the weekend, and pretty much anything we did during Saturday and Sunday went over well with the crowd. Heck, I even went back to basics and did some magic for that evening.

But my personal highlight that didn't involve cosplay at all? It must have been when the boys from Philippine Wrestling Revolution showed up.

Ken Warren has better things to do than pose for the camera.

So yeah, it was definitely a great ToyCon, and something I'm very proud of, as far as hosting gigs go. I'm really grateful for the opportunity, and catching up with old friends like Kristell (who gave me an awesome Superman Hoodie!) and Lizette really only made things even better.

.:And The Rest?:.

It feels like I'm in a state of flux, what with my consultancy wrapping up, and having people question me after years upon years of consistent behavior. I would laugh if it weren't so pathetic.

There's so much going on behind the scenes in my life lately. It's hard to sit down and write about it all, if only for the fact that over the years, I've learned to keep more to myself, but I've also decided not to really care about my Livejournal nearly as much while doing it. There's a whole host of things to look forward to, and the future is bright. Ultimately, if people are going to burden me while I reach for the stars, then I would only find it easier for me to just unburden myself of the people and things holding me back.

For now, I'll leave it at that. It's a wonder I even got to blog at all this month, so that's something to be grateful for, at least.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Whoah. It's Been How Long?

.:So... Life:.

I haven't been writing here for so long, and it's a bit embarrassing already.

Anyone still reading this probably knows what I'm up to, though: I'm still doing comedy at Burger Company every Thursdays (alternating between standup and improv), and I've also been doing consultancy work for the past couple of months. It's been very good, and I've found myself really discovering that after years of shying away from it, I am not half bad at management work at all. But yeah, that's neither here nor there.

There's still the 8List, too. That's been pretty fun. And when I find the time to breathe, you just know the Cracked thing is looming in the wings.

In the meantime, I've discovered that I really, really like wearing Erick Rowan's sheep mask...

I follow the buzzards.

That creepy-looking sheep mask has been getting me so much mileage lately. I don't particularly think I'm gonna end up wearing it for my website when it finally goes up, but whatever. I really, really like it.

And, oh, that shot of Ludo: Boardgames Bar and Cafe there was taken during their second Murder Mystery night, where I came as a Space Captain.

Of the Space Loveboat, I guess?

It was a great event, although for the second Murder Mystery in a row, the murderer managed to get away with the crime. I even did a bit of rules lawyering that night, just to see what would happen, and it's pretty funny how Jay Mata set the precedent that he was going to willfully ignore people who did that when it comes to awarding achievements. At least, we don't have to worry about people doing that to "win" in future installments of Murder Mystery, right?

But yeah, I've been talking about Ludo: Boardgames Bar and Cafe mainly because one of the biggest shows of Switch Improv is coming up there soon. It's something that is near and dear to my heart, having been a huge fan of "House Of Cards" for the past three seasons it's come on. After all, 2016 is coming. We have to choose wisely.

Move over, Winter!

So yes, if this premise interests you, please, please, please, come on down this May 19 for one of the most ambitious shows Switch Improv has ever done. We're very, very proud of this.

Overall, as you can see, life has been pretty good. Just... don't ask me about my lovelife, if you know what's good for you.