Apr 10, 2013

Body Snatchers poem



If Kool-Aid is your drink of choice
And hungry souls you're targeting
Just raise your glass, and "salesman" voice:
To multi-level marketing!

Apr 9, 2013

L.A. poem

As dressing down becomes the norm
And no one looks askance
A loophole takes the streets by storm
They're sold as "yoga pants."

Bluster

You hooked me in, an easy sell
With cunning and virility
But then you shot it all to Hell:
You said, "comfortability."

Love poem

If hatred is your cup of tea
and homophobic libel
The Joel Osteen ministry
okays it as "The Bible."

Apr 6, 2013

Poem for the Day




As world approaches end of line
in Armageddon graphic,
L.A. will be a bit behind
(we'll all be stuck in traffic).

Nov 18, 2012

Skyfalling in love again.


I've been playing Adele's new single "Skyfall" over and over again for days now, because a.) it's a beautiful song, and b.) it makes me feel like I'm in the movie, only a lot safer, because 1.) no one's shooting at me, and 2.) I am a freelance writer, instead of a spy.

I saw Skyfall a few days ago and I can't get it out of my head.

Skyfall
has awakened the decades-old fantasy... that I am James Bond. When you grow up fat, effeminate and clumsy, it's easy to fantasize that you're the exact opposite of yourself. For me, that has always been James Bond.

Thanks to Ian Fleming, Daniel Craig and the brilliant director Sam Mendes, MI6 operative 007 continues to represent everything I've never been: masculine and beautiful, tall and athletic. British. The older and more self-aware I get, the more I realize how much I've always wanted to be British; not so much for their accent but for their quality of reserve.

"Reserve" is a quality I lack. When I get excited about something I practically sing and dance, yet I've always been attracted to quiet people. Quiet people are sexy, and no one's as effectively quiet as James Bond. His gun makes more noise than he does. When he does speak, he does so with economy, using just enough language to say something grave, witty, or both. By contrast, ask me how I'm doing and I'll fly right off the rails - no telling where I'll land.

Where Skyfall really takes me by the wrist, pulls me into the shadows and doesn't let go, however, is in its melancholy. The dark tone set in 2006's Casino Royale - equal parts blood, sweat and tux - is even darker now. Heavy and spectacular, Skyfall broods like no other Bond film has brooded before.

Bond doesn't just careen through this latest adventure, he's the beating heart of it. It's impossible to separate him from this pained, minor-chord milieu. Yet I wouldn't want to. Bond in pain is a total turn-on. I'm older now, and it takes more than a sea-diving sports car or an exploding pen to hold my interest. Skyfall wields so much emotional weaponry through its haunted backstory, dissection of loyalty and jaded, knowing homoeroticism that I can't decide whether I should duck or eat something fattening.

I love James Bond. I always have, but this time I know it's for real. As usual, he's got the looks, the brains, the skill, but now he hurts, he feels, he questions -- and at this introspective time in my life, the fantasists have hit upon the perfect formula. As a kid, I wanted to be cool. As an adult, I just want to be adequate. So for someone who spends most of his time stumbling and giggling through social awkwardness and professional apathy, a dour, tormented Bond is nothing less than exotic.

He's still everything I'm not, now even more so.

And hey - if you're going to fall for an emotional cripple, it doesn't hurt if he looks like Daniel Craig, right?

Nov 3, 2012

How eye roll.


Here's the L.A. Party Planning Countdown:

Throw a party large enough, and at least...

10.       ten people will be Scientologists, Wiccans or Pagans (and yes, I'm lumping them all together. Deal.)

9.         nine people will be gluten-free.

8.         eight people will have new tattoos.

7.         seven people will be life coaches.

6.         six people won't be able to make it (because they're at Burning Man).

5.         five people will be stand-up comics.

4.         four people will be wearing dreadlocks. Four white people.

3.         three people will have slept with you (and the one you'd like to sleep with again isn't interested).

2.         two people's names will completely escape you (the other two that slept with you).

1.         one person will be wearing a kilt.


It's getting harder and harder for me to get out of bed without rolling my eyes at something. I'm not proud of that, nor am I ashamed. I'm just telling you the truth. I may be gay, Filipino, and just the slightest bit affected, but I'm also quite the curmudgeon. Archie Bunker in low-rise jeans. Becker wearing moisturizer.

I generally circulate with a very "live-and-let-live" crowd, so I feel pretty isolated in my observations, even when surrounded by close friends. I can live and let live, but not without the occasional, "Oh, puh-leeeeeeez..."

At some point, something or someone will strike me as ridiculous, and if/when I point that out, someone dear to me will become very impatient and label me "judgmental."

I'm sure it would be different if I were a celebrity. When Kathy Griffin or Joan Rivers make similar statements, people laugh. When I do it, I'm being "narrow-minded."

The truth is, I'm in a category far beyond "judgmental" and "narrow-minded"; I'm right. There is a difference.

It wasn't a choice. I was born this way.

No haters.

Oct 9, 2012

Change is essential.




I shaved off my facial hair.

It wasn't much to begin with; a sparse goatee and some patchy fuzz over my lip, but it marks a change, along with growing my hair back (receding hairline and all). I change the way I look every few months. My appearance is a toy that I've played with ever since I can remember.

I don't know if anyone cares about it, but I do. Deeply.

My best friend in high school once remarked, "You can't pass by your reflection without looking at it," and he was right. He still is. I am always looking at myself. If my friends and I are seated in a restaurant with mirrored walls, I consider my reflection part of our dinner party. On any kind of video chat, I'm watching myself as much as my conversation partner. And walking past any kind of glassy storefront, I am sizing up my waist, my build, my ass.

I don't think I'm great-looking; that's not why I seem so taken with myself. I have a big head and short legs, and at best, I believe I'm charming. I just like to make sure that I look adequate - fit for visual assessment. I'm shallow, but the deeper truth is that I'm not so much vain as I am concerned. I have to look okay.

Growing up (and out) as an obese child can mess with your head, and no, I don't want your pity. I just want your approval.

The right look, I'm sure, will get it.

Sep 14, 2012

The Shorter List

TEN
THINGS
I
CAN'T
LIVE

WITHOUT


In every issue, my favorite interior design magazine ELLE DECOR publishes "Shortlist," a quick look at the twelve absolutely-must-haves of the world's most celebrated purveyors of style.

These are lavish rosters; basically, catalogues of dreams. While it's comforting to find the occasional kindred spirit (Tim Gunn loves Pepperidge Farm Goldfish) (and I love Tim Gunn), most of the items listed - as well as the people who list them - tend toward the exotic and phenomenal.

To wit:

Gwyneth Paltrow's Item #1
De Gournay Hand-Painted Wallpaper
"I indulged with one wall in my London living room covered in a gorgeous pattern."
(ELLE DECOR, September 2011)

Karl Lagerfeld's Item #4
Süe et Mare Art Deco Furniture
"1919-1927, only those years."
(ELLE DECOR, September 2012)


Well, there are a few things I can't live without either, but if fancy-pants ELLE DECOR isn't calling me to find out what they are, then it's up to me to share them with you myself.

After all, how can I ever become a style icon if I don't start acting like one?

Enjoy!

- - -

THE SHORTER LIST: RUFINO CABANG
10 things he can't live without

1.  Mirrors

I love mirrors, because I'm so vain. It's not that I think I'm gorgeous, just incredibly interesting... and why wouldn't I think that? I'm the only person I truly know 100%. If only I could meet myself at a party... the conversations! Scintillating.

2.  IKEA "Kvarnvik" Magazine Files

Welcoming guests should be the main objective of any bathroom, which is why these convenient rag-holders greet mine as soon as they're "situated." How to accommodate the most urgent of visitors? With back issues of Car and Driver, ELLE DECOR and, of course, that staple of stay-in-there-forever reading, the IKEA Catalog.

3.  The Internet

If you'd told me in my youth that one day, with a few clicks of a keyboard, I'd instantaneously be able to see anything I wanted, I might have put down my drink, and gasped. Images of everything I love, from cars (vintage) to interiors (eclectic) to naked men (hairy), are sent to me in a virtual stream coursing through my laptop morning, noon and night. Technology, live a hundred years!

4.  Resentment

Those in spiritual circles may call it "The number-one offender," but I believe resentment to be the very fuel that sets my blood to flowing. Stuff people did to me years ago, everyday indignations; these are no less a part of me than my obese childhood and bullied adolescence. So if you've hurt me in any way, thank you. The thought of revenge keeps me fresh and alive!

5.  Air Conditioning

Whenever I hear someone say they don't believe in artificial climate, I say, Well, that person's nothing but a fool. I love my air the way I love Heidi Klum: cold, and forced. In the summer you'll find me eating leftover pizza in my bedroom, sitting in front of my reassuringly loud free-standing A/C unit, which I've decorated as an homage to two of my favorite icons of cool, Barry Manilow and Donna Summer.

6.  Dairy

Sure, my stomach churns and bubbles at the mere mention of lactose, but I'll be damned if I'm going to live a life without butter, cheese and ice cream. A few tabs of Imodium are all I need to indulge my self-abusive diet - that of a grossly overweight, sexually-frustrated seventh grader.

7.  iPhone

For years, I lived the struggle of so many ex-smokers, asking myself, "Will I really live longer or does it just seem that way, now that I have nothing to do?"  Thanks to Steve Jobs, I can now avoid conversation, confrontation and feelings all in one fell swoop by turning to my iPhone - or at least pretending to (sometimes I even read old texts, just to look occupied). And should you ever see me pass, red-cased receiver held firmly to my face, waving and mouthing to you a quick and friendly "hi," feel free to play along with the charade: there's no one on the line. I think you're wonderful, but we don't really need to chat.

8.  Insulin

No, literally - I can't live without it.

9.  Television

A house doesn't come alive until the TV is turned on. I love TV, and refuse to give up my wallet-draining two-room cable hookup even as my finances dwindle to a handful of pennies, paper clips and loose Altoids. For what is it that truly separates us from the beasts? Friends reruns and Project Runway.

10.  The 99-Cent Only Store

Just because I'm only marginally employed doesn't mean I can't revel in manic shopping sprees like the super-rich. I just take my reveling to "the 99-cent store." Whether my mood is fun or foul, the good old 99 is always there to give me that much-needed retail fix, insuring my inventory of off-brand body lotion, imitation Tupperware and hours of aisle-cruising consumerist fantasy.


- - -

There you have it. Ten superb, excellent, wonderful things. ELLE DECOR invites their guests to name twelve, but my life is smaller, as is my list. I have no stake in the film or fashion worlds, and lack the means of those who do. The things I consider "essential" follow a matter of course, rather than a designer's directive.

Also, every time I tried to think of more than ten items, my thoughts just got dirtier and stupider.

Finally, there are givens. I didn't feel it necessary to count my boyfriend Peter, my dog Ringo, or my five pairs of dark-wash low-rise jeans - these are incontestable. I confide in a knowing audience, for whom the obvious rarely bears mentioning.

I hope you've enjoyed my list. Perhaps we cross paths on some of them, and that makes me happy. I have no need for exclusivity. If it's good enough for me, it's good enough for everyone. I want you all to sample that which gives me pleasure.

Speaking of which, I must be going. I've got a little time to spare, a full jar of mayonnaise, and just enough energy to enjoy #11 and #12 before the neighbors get home.

Cheers!

Sep 8, 2012

A Manner of Speaking

           
              

I like to keep myself entertained. I talk to myself.

Actually, I do more than talk to myself. I act.

Sometimes I hold entire conversations with myself, either in my head or out loud, playing all the parts. I could be deranged, but I like to think it's something that many people who live alone do. Lately I’ve been staging little character-driven dramas, in a style of language that I absolutely love.

It’s a theatrical style I favor, very presentational, and as I am an Orange County-born middle-aged youngest child of Filipino immigrants, painfully affected.

It’s something I like to call, “The Elegant Imperative.”

It’s the tone of voice you hear in drawing-room theatre when characters governed by an inbred sense of civility are made so uncomfortable that they’re forced to strain the limits of decorum. When you just know that they want to scream or yell but can’t, because of being all British or highbrow or whatever.

It’s equal parts Noël Coward, Bette Davis and the Crane brothers (Frasier and Niles); and immediately recognizable as soon as someone begins a sentence with the words:

“I really must insist…”

That’s when you know the shepherd’s pie has really hit the fan.

The scene usually builds gently; starting with mild conversation, then an exchange of contrasting opinions, soon the discourse adopts a clipped, staccato rhythm, and then someone says something... uh-oh... untoward.

At that point you can feel the affronted party wanting to say, “Get the f*** out of my house!” but of course can’t (because this is a Merchant-Ivory house), so instead, he or she sets down his or her teacup with a sharp clink, stands up to full height and says

“I really must insist that you leave.”

Then both characters look down, clear their throats and bid each other a quiet, uncomfortable, “Good day.”

I love that kind of stuff! It’s so tortured.

Elegant Imperative is a highly tense tense, a brutally efficient descriptor of mood. It’s how I want to talk whenever I’m irritated, but people won’t get how dignified I think I’m being; they’ll just think I’m crazy. Today’s Honey Boo Boo audience doesn't appreciate the power of restraint. They want to see mud literally flung, or at least people rolling around in it.

I feel sorry for a world that doesn’t prize this sort of language. It has specialness. It gives any admonition a sense of occasion.

***

Example 1

Normal Speech:         Whadda you mean, my insurance only covers a mid-size?

Elegant Imperative:   I really must insist on a Town Car.

Example 2

Normal Speech:         No, I ordered the sourdough cheeseburger.

Elegant Imperative:   I really must insist on the San Franciscan.*

         [*For full effect, say it to the server before the plate even touches the table. If possible, stand.]

***

If I were president (and what an interesting world that would be), I would mandate a school curriculum replete with the films of Maggie Smith, episodes of The Avengers (secret agents John Steed and Emma Peel, not the superhero Avengers) and just the quiet parts of Woody Allen’s Interiors. I would train children’s conversational skills with equal doses of vocabulary, posturing and oppression. I would see to it that bullying is replaced by shaming, and only through the most discreet, yet pointed, remarks possible.

I would, in effect, cultivate the national "reserve."

Life would be so much more interesting, as would the conversations. Passion is most apparent when it's discouraged.

I want to be made uncomfortable, choked by a tight collar of decency.

I want to seethe. I want to bristle. And I want you to hear it.

I really must insist on it.

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