Subculture Live at B-Side

My buddies in the band Subculture played a Sepultura tribute show at B-Side and I tagged along, quite happy that I would finally have a chance to shoot a band with my Fujifilm X-T2. When I arrived there, I saw the bands were setting up to play in an area that had zero lighting – just the ambient lighting from the surrounding bars and the almost-full moon above. But I was there, I had the camera with me, I bit my lip and got on with it. Everything was shot with the Fujifilm XF 23mm F2.0 lens, most shots were at ISO 10,000.

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Random Thoughts and Photos

Part One – Manila Taxi Drivers Suck

Saturday night I wanted to go out and find some bands to shoot with my new camera. I was talking to an American friend and he said he’d come with if we went to the Hard Rock. Since drinking would be involved, we both left our cars at home and took a Grab over to Makati.

We got to the Hard Rock waaaayyyyy too early. It was 7:30, there was practically no one else there, they told us the bands don’t start till after 9:30. We sat in the bar and had dinner and then it was 8:00 and still time to kill so we went for a walk – Cafe Havana where we had some drinks and admired the view, then Spicy Fingers, and then back to Hard Rock. It was boring cover band night, I kept hoping for something better, but by the time the band on stage decided to torture us with Toto, I said it was time to leave.

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Random Stuff on a Saturday Night

I went to SM Mega Mall on a Saturday night, which is an indication of how much of a masochist I must be. 30 minutes to drive there, 30 minutes waiting to get into the parking lot. But I figured I could find almost everything I was looking for in one place and I had nothing else to do, ergo ….

First order of business – buy a surge protector.  I made the dumb mistake of checking The Wirecutter for recommendations first. Dumb because of course I already knew in advance that whatever they’d be recommending wouldn’t be available here – here being the relatively large Cyber Mall on the 4th floor of Mega Mall. And I was right! Their number one choice – Tripp Lite – no one ever heard of it. Their number two choice, a specific model from Belkin that sells for all of US$31 (gasp!) on Amazon apparently is too expensive for this market.

One shop I went into had a cheaper Belkin, just one model, two pieces on the rack. Another shop had several different Belkins and a couple of models from a company called Silvertec.

My experience can be summed up by this exchange:

Him: Good evening. Can I help you?

Me: Yes, I’m looking for a surge protector.

Him: What?

Me: A surge protector.

Him: For what?

Me: (?????) For my computer.

Him: Oh. How many inches?

Me: That’s a rather personal question, isn’t it?

Him: ????

Me: Thank you!

Dinner at Mighty Quinn’s. Brisket, dirty rice, cole slaw and three kinds of pickles including pickled jalapenos. No complaints.

Then I figured I’d hit a movie (Logan) and had two hours to kill before the next showing. Walked around. Looked in a bunch of shops. Almost bought a new pair of prescription glasses but decided to hold off a couple of weeks.

Went outside for a smoke. Walked past Gerry’s Grill. There’s a family of 10 dining outside there. And here’s what “outside” looks like when you’re eating outside of this branch of Gerry’s Grill (red arrow):

Yeah, you’re sitting in a tunnel, with about 10 FX vans and 20 taxis parked there, all revving their engines to keep their air cons going, not to mention standstill traffic in both directions. People are sitting there eating? Inhaling a solid wall of CO2 along with their food? And then this family is finished, they get up to leave, the kid who couldn’t have been more than 8 or 9 stands up and deliberately spits on the ground – hocks up a huge loogie on the ground right where he was sitting and right next to another table where people are sitting. He couldn’t even be bothered to walk the 2 feet over to the curb to spit into the street. No one says a word. No one. Not one word.

Anyway, eventually it was movie time. Logan. It’s the third weekend it’s playing here, it has plenty of competition (Beauty and the Beast, King Kong Skull Island, Power Rangers something or other), it’s still playing in one of the bigger rooms in the multiplex – an 800 or 1,000 seater. No Imax, no 3D, no reserved seating, so tickets just US$5. Cannot complain about that.

And even though it’s currently rated an 8.5 at IMDb and gets a 92% at Rotten Tomatoes, I thought it was good (and definitely different enough from the rest of the X-Men films, which have grown quite tiresome in many ways, not the least of which the way in which they waste talented actors) but not great by any means. I guess I got more of a kick out of seeing Stephen Merchant (Ricky Gervais’s possibly more talented and definitely taller frequent collaborator) buried under tons of make-up, not to mention Richard E. Grant and Eriq LaSalle. And it was good to see Hugh Jackman without the stupid hair do and facial hair.

And now I’m home and, well, that’s about it!

(Actually Friday night was better. I was introduced to a group of local tattoo artists, spoke to them about maybe shooting in their shops at some point, started thinking about my next tattoo and flashed on this melting clock from Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory:

Or maybe Dali’s The Melting Watch, if I wanna get really ambitious about it:

Perhaps draped over my right shoulder (and yeah, I know, doing it there will hurt like a motherfucker, but it seems like a logical place for it) so pass the tequila and let’s get it on … maybe.)

 

Playing With the Fujifilm X-T2 (And Some Random Photos)

I’ve had the Fujifilm X-T2 for almost two weeks and the more I use it, the more I get used to using it, the more I’m convinced that I made the right decision in selling off my Nikon.

My initial fear was that this camera was going to be too small for me to comfortably hold but that didn’t turn out to be the case at all. It’s a great fit, almost as if they had my hands in mind when designing the camera.

My next realization was that with easily accessible and clearly marked dials for ISO and shutter speed, and aperture rings on the lenses I purchased, plus the “assist” I can get from the two command dials, I’m possibly thinking about settings more than I did in the past, and manually bracketing a lot of my shots as I continue to try to find out what works and what doesn’t work with the camera.

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PLDT – Why Do You Make Me Hate You So Much?

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks and I’ve been meaning to write an update but I’ve just been that busy. I was in Hong Kong for 8 days and meant to write something about that but the time has eluded me. Also the company I work for has been bought and it’s not immediately clear what that means for my future.

Anyway, last month, I was a little bit late in paying bills – sheer laziness, no other reason. I paid my monthly PLDT bill a couple of days after the due date. But here’s the thing – it was due on a Thursday, I paid it on Saturday, the payment registered on their system on Monday, and then they still cut my service on Tuesday because essentially their systems are so fucking shitmongous that they couldn’t cross-process the information on time.

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Some Days Are Good Enough

It is 5:39 AM as I start writing this post. I’ve been up since 3 AM. There are several reasons for this.

I’ve started taking a medication called Champix, which is supposed to help one quit smoking by somehow reducing the, um, enjoyment one gets from a cigarette and from nicotine. Actually I’d started taking it in November but went off it when my mother died. I’d felt it starting to work and always intended to give it another try and started with it again last week. One of the common side effects is insomnia, which I’ve got. Another is very vivid dreams, which I’ve got. One rare side effect apparently is suicidal thoughts, which so far I don’t have.

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A Few Good Days

I need distractions. I’m so horrified by the events in the U.S. during the past ten days but I don’t know what to say about them, what to add to the discussion. I need distractions.

Friends from Hong Kong (American husband, Filipino wife) have a house in Angeles. We drove up there for the weekend. The drive itself is quite okay – well it’s roughly 60 miles but takes almost 2-1/2 hours if you drive straight through. The NLEX highway has plenty of American-style rest stops – the larger ones not only have gas stations but also have 15 or 20 fast food chains. The ones on the drive south also feature outlet stores from Nike, Adidas and others, crafts shops, even a shop selling ATV’s.

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Manila – It’s the Little Things

Yeah. More bitching and moaning. But a lot of you seem to enjoy it!

When you are a foreign resident here, you are required to show up in person at the Bureau of Immigration every January to prove you are still alive and in the Philippines. You can fill out the relevant form for this online but you are still required to make an appearance. I get the feeling it is one of those “we make you do it because we can” things.

The main office of the BI is in Intramuros. It is just 14 miles from where I live but it takes longer to drive there than it does to fly from Manila to Hong Kong. The BI website lists an office in Makati. I tried to contact that office based upon the information available on their web site – I tried calling but the “main number” rings over to a fax machine and an email I sent to them was returned as undeliverable. This is a common factor with Philippines government web sites – unreliable, confusing and/or missing information.

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Manila – OPM Against Drugs Festival Photo – Photo Gallery

I’m now going to be adding Photo Galleries here (rather than on Spike’s Photos). You can see there’s now a Photo Galleries item on the top menu. I might add in some of the older galleries soon.

I’m kicking this off with a gallery of what I think are my best shots from the OPM Against Drugs Festival held in Manila on January 14, 2017.  Here’s a few sample shots:

Click here to see the full gallery!