Jun 24 2016

My very first DVD

Adel Gabot

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8:15AM

Blast from the past: yesterday I got another copy of the very first original DVD I ever owned—Spawn.

Oh, I know it’s not anything earth-shattering or auspicious. And it’s not a particularly good movie, not by any means. But it was my first movie in the (what was then) new format, and it holds great sentimental value for me.

Back then when DVDs were still new (and very expensive), they weren’t readily available in my country. Bootleg discs were still a few years away. All of the titles being sold were original American R1s, and were all over the map as far as movie types were concerned. We bought what we could get.

The player I got (which was big and bulky), as far as I can recall, was one of the early Sony models, which I paid a pretty penny for. Back then (as I still am now) I was already an early adopter, and I had to have the latest and the greatest. If I knew then what I know now (that we’d have hi-res files of these movies just streaming to our TVs and desktops, and that the disc format’s days have come and gone) I wouldn’t have tried too hard to be an early adopter.

But back then, playing a DVD was a wondrous experience. Coming from the bigger and buggier laserdisc technology (which I also had a ton of), it was a singular experience to have such hi-fi output to come from such a little thing. I marveled at the high resolution video and audio fidelity of Michael Jai White being burned to a crisp by an evil Martin Sheen. Hey, it’s Spawn; what do you expect?

That disc began a long run of many satisfying hours watching movies, both good and bad, on DVDs, until I migrated to Blurays and streamed video. Watching it now, I’m transported back to the good old days.

I have no idea where it is now, that disc, but wherever it is, I hope it found a good home.

Wala lang, just reminiscing.


May 6 2016

Clean-shaven

Adel Gabot

11:09AM

This morning in the shower, apropos of nothing, I shaved my face clean.

For the first time in what, over two decades, I shaved off my Van Dyke beard, and became clean shaven for the first time in a long time.

I don’t know what possessed me to do it.

I just thought it might be time for a slight change. Just like that fateful day a long time ago when I decided it might be good to grow a beard and have a slight change in the way I look.

A totally random, arbitrary decision. Both times. Although that first one stayed with me for over 20 years. Christ, I have good, longtime friends who have never known me not to have a beard. It’s been that long.

I call it a beard, but that’s really stretching the definition, I think, especially in the beginning.

It was, to use a word, sparse. I had an adequate mustache, but the rest of it proved wanting. I could grow a workable chin, but the sides barely grew and didn’t connect to the temples. I had to cultivate and encourage it for months before it became passable. In time I had a Van Dyke, that type of beard that grew around the mouth area—because that was the only thing I could grow.

And so it went. I had to trim it often, first every two weeks, then every week, and when it finally got growing, every couple of days. But that happened in the space of a couple of years in the beginning.

There were times I would trim it neatly and assiduously, and other times I would let it grow wild and free. But I had to keep it as neat as I could, otherwise I looked like a homeless bum.

In the later years, the beard would have its share of gray hairs, much more than my head, which had practically none. The last couple of years it would take on a salt-and-pepper look that betrayed my actual age. If I didn’t have the Van Dyke, I could pass for someone in my late thirties, instead of a ripe old 54.

So this morning, I figured, why not shave it off, and in the process look a lot younger. So I did.

And I needn’t have worried about how different I looked now. My brother and father didn’t even notice anything had changed at breakfast. Karla, the manager at Starbucks where I was at this morning, gave me her usual cheery hello and didn’t even bat an eyelash.

I thought I’d have a reverse 5 o’clock shadow for a while, because the sun-deprived skin under the beard wouldn’t have the color of the rest of my face, but apparently I looked exactly the same as before.

Hmph.

I’ll try out this new look for a week or so, and if it doesn’t pan out, well, I’ll just grow it back.


May 5 2016

Isleys

Adel Gabot

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8:10PM

I was walking through a mall yesterday afternoon when I heard a cover of an old favorite Aaliyah song off the PA system of a restaurant—At Your Best (You Are Love), sung by an unidentified male jazz singer. I hadn’t heard the song for a while, and the version by the guy was a nice one.

As I walked, I hummed the song to myself, and I thought, I got to get the lyrics of that off the net so I can properly sing it to myself when I wanted to.

The next day, I looked for the Aaliyah song, and was surprised to find out that Aaliyah’s version was actually a cover of an Isley Brothers original, which they originally wrote for their mother. (Gives you an idea of my knowledge of music history—hey, I was a radio DJ for contemporary music; I can’t be expected to know everything.) Reading further, I found out that the song had been done over by many artists, including a couple of local ones—notably Nina, and Juris of MYMP .

My knowledge of the Isley Brothers was confined to Harvest For The World and Highways of My Life. I loved Harvest, and Highways used to get played often back in the day on AM radio, and I remember sort of liking it as a kid. But that was the extent of my experience with the band.

So I dug further into the Isleys, and my curiosity got piqued so much that I downloaded a greatest hits album—and was shocked to find I knew a lot of their songs, but sung by other artists! Some of my favorites!

Like Listen To The Music done over by The Doobie Brothers, Summer Breeze done by Seals & Crofts, and For The Love of You by the late Whitney Houston. (To be sure, the Isleys did covers too, like Put A Little Love In Your Heart, Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight and Love The One You’re With, which goes to show that what goes around, comes around.)

Thing is, I hadn’t realized they were covers. Man.

The Ultimate Collection of The Isley Brothers is a old-new favorite I’ll be listening to a lot these next few months.


Apr 23 2016

Scandalous

Adel Gabot

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11:32AM

One last thing about dear departed Prince.

You may think I’m an odd duck for this, but to me, Prince’s best song is not I Would Die 4 U, When Doves Cry, Kiss or even the iconic Purple Rain.

For me, his best song was this virtually unknown one he wrote for the soundtrack of the 1989 Tim Burton film Batman called Scandalous.

Few people remember it, or I think even heard it, it’s so obscure.

It’s part of an album of songs Prince wrote for the movie, and it’s separate and distinct from the original soundtrack album written by Danny Elfman. It’s just nine tracks all in all.

Most of the songs Prince wrote were hardly included in the film, and just a few snippets were incorporated into the film, notably The Arms of Orion, and a bit of Partyman and Lemon Crush. I think Batdance was in the closing credits.

I don’t even really remember hearing Scandalous in the actual film, save for, I think, one or two lines. I’d better rewatch the movie and make sure.

Batman was an interesting film, but it didn’t really capture my idea of the hooded hero. I bought the CD in 1989, thinking it was the Danny Elfman album, and was at first unpleasantly surprised. But as I continued to listen to Prince’s tracks, I grew to like them, particularly Scandalous. (I bought the Elfman album eventually, but it’s long forgotten now, unlike Prince’s.)

I don’t know what it is about the song, but it somehow spoke to me, with its haunting refrain and arresting verses, and I grew to love it. Yes, I love his other mainstream hits of course, but nothing matched Scandalous, at least for me. Prince’s tortured yet elegant falsetto and the repetitive slow rhythm caught my ear.

I think it’s fantastic, and an underappreciated and underrated gem from the man. That’s why I’ve played it several times since yesterday, the day of Prince’s death.

And I guess, why I will continue to play it intermittently for years to come.

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EDIT: April 24, 11:25AM – I watched Batman again, and I was wrong. It wasn’t Batdance at the end credits. It was actually the entirety of Scandalous, right after Elfman’s Main Theme that played through half the credits. Hmm. Memory can play strange tricks on you.  27 years will do that.

 


Feb 24 2016

Gorey as hell

Adel Gabot

11:00AM

I was struck by this sudden avalanche of tweets, tributes, blog posts and general brouhaha about Edward Gorey, the prolific artist and illustrator, yesterday when I belatedly realized it was the 16th anniversary of his passing. People were just honoring the man by mentioning him and showing samples of his best work.

Gorey had a profound and massive influence on me, and colored a great deal of who I am and what I like to write about. Because as a kid I’d stumbled upon a big old book in the UP Elementary School Library composed of spooky, eerie children’s stories that he had illustrated. I was in 5th Grade back then, and was in a very malleable formative state. Finding this book at that age was fortuitous.

Each story was fronted by a full-page plate of a pen-and-ink sketch, and the illustrations captured my imagination more than the actual stories, which, in retrospect, were simple and childish tales that paled in comparison to the pictures that accompanied them. There were at least two dozen of them in that book. Man.

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Aside from thoroughly creeping out this lonely young boy who sought solace from grade-school madness in the school library during breaks, his wordless and weird, black and white style would stay with me for the rest of my years, informing my likes and dislikes, and forming my baseline grid of what was visually scary.

The staid, angular, sinister yet somehow… regal looks of his characters and creatures spoke volumes to me. The cross-hatching and black shadings of his pen, the weird, wordless silence of his work, the inscrutable monsters and quiet and creepy people in his illustrations in that book simultaneously chilled and delighted me, and Gorey’s work to this day evokes the same emotions, whenever I come across it.

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I can’t remember exactly the name of the book and its author(s) in that library, much less the exact stories and illustrations, but it will always stay with me as a seminal influence, as will Edward Gorey’s body of work.

God bless you, Mr. Gorey, wherever you are.

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