Lockdown

   I just got reminded by my mom that if I have any plans of getting travel documents in the way of passports and visas, I have to cut my hair.  Somehow, many of my relatives are quite concerned about my hair length.  It’s paranoia by syllogism:

  • I have long hair.
  • I’m from UP.
  • I used to be an activist of the street-rallying kind.

   It’s not that I’m afraid of having a haircut: when I took the summer term at UP Diliman a couple of years ago, I had a haircut.  Some of my friends were very nanghihinayang that I cut my hair when it was so long, shiny, and fell in a neat cascade almost to the small of my back.  Now my hair is below shoulder-length: it’s still too long by conventional and conservative standards.

   For all intents and purposes, I used to be very vainglorious when my hair was longer.  I oiled it myself on a regular basis, used handfuls of shampoo and handfuls of conditioner (not the all-in-one kind), and even went so far as to have it cellophaned once.  When pesky lice infested my hair, I took the burning sensations of Kwell, had my hair ironed, and then went to a hair spa a month later… all in the effort of ridding my locks of the parasitic vermin.

   Now that I have shorter hair – and figured out the cost of my vanity – I stopped giving my hair the kind of attention I don’t give my romantic prospects.  The truth is, you don’t have to go to a hair salon to have good hair: you only need to give your hair an extra oomph of shampoo.  Soap, surprisingly, works fine.

   But I don’t know what haircuts have to do with travelling abroad.

Mixed Reactions

   In the real world, I’ve been getting some mixed reactions on my recent move to my own web domain and shifting blogging platforms from BlogDrive to WordPress.  The first impression of almost every reader is the color scheme: in Original TMX, some readers threw online fits when I changed background colors from black to white.  The Christmas theme was particularly a cause for discontent among more loyal readers, so I scrapped it.

In general, for its first few days, Marocharim.com got some mixed reactions.

 *     *     *

   There are mixed reactions to this particular theme I chose when I shifted to WordPress: as expected, some don’t like it.  Black, as it seems, is synonymous with the general “attitude” of The Marocharim Experiment.  I have a fairly good excuse for that: I still have to learn the works of WordPress, and as soon as I can do that, I would very probably go back in black.

Yet I’m quite surprised at the positive feedback I have received when it comes to color and page themes: apparently, this theme is cleaner and easier to read compared to the original.  I’ve gotten a small number of messages from a few readers who said that the original BlogDrive blog was quite hard to read owing to its high-contrast color scheme (the bulk of them saying that they get eyestrain).  Another positive feedback is that on slower connections, “New TMX” loads way faster.

Another thing some people observed is that here, I eliminated the bracketed tag line (those introductory notes at the beginning of entries that usually take the form of < hmmm… >).  That tag line served the purpose of what I’m writing about: WordPress comes with categories, which means that I don’t really have to “qualify” the “topic” of the article any more than an obligatory onomatopoeia.

Another convenient feature of WordPress is that it runs just as well on Mozilla Firefox as Internet Explorer.  Back when I was using BlogDrive, entries typed in IE looked better than ones typed in Firefox, so I duked it out with IE as much as I didn’t really like it.

I’m not saying that BlogDrive is a sucky platform for free blogging: I didn’t remain a loyal free subscriber of BlogDrive if it didn’t get the job done.  In fact, if you’re a relatively new blogger, I highly recommend BlogDrive: it’s very easy to customize, it comes with great themes, and it has a very good WYSIWYG editor.

*     *     *

    On the matter of my own domain, I also have gotten mixed reactions.  While some are genuinely happy for me, some are genuinely unhappy: apparently, having my own web domain represents my re-initiation into bourgeois culture and marks the beginning of that day when I would very probably sell out to advertisers.  I understand the sentiment: after all, I did just fine blogging for free without having to bombard my audience with advertisements back in the old days.  But as much as I hate to admit it, times have changed.  Having my own domain means much more flexibility, but it also means having to pay for it.  Practicality – the fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse – rears its ugly head and has convinced me that this domain has to pay for itself.

In the very near future, I would do the “unthinkable” and do AdSense, and eventually, I would probably write for companies who want to advertise their products online (until such time that I can establish a wider audience).  But I’ll try to keep that at a minimum: as long as I have enough to pay for the yearly renewal fees of this domain and the Coke I drink every time I write, and perhaps a few bills to line my wallet.  I’m not planning to be a millionaire.

*     *     *

   Anyway, perhaps the most important thing I need now is a wider audience, and perhaps writing projects.  Spread the word.

Tomas Dreamer

   I was watching “Wowowee” awhile ago… no wait, I watch “Wowowee” almost every day.  I suppose part of my brain has already died and got reabsorbed as testosterone because of scantily-clad Anna S. Feliciano/ASF Dancers (I have my eye on that girl who carries the Liveraide package).  Talk about the pervasive influence of popular culture.

   Because Willie Revillame panders to the poor by way of giving away big bucks, the dream of big money becomes synonymous with a new dream that has reared its ugly head on the collective subconscious: to see “Papi.”  The “Willie of Fortune” contestant – usually a poor, downtrodden person who has walked the proverbial pool of quicksand that is hard time – would profess, “Matagal ko nang pangarap na makasali dito sa WOWOWEEEEEE!!!”  This may sound “elitist,” but you have got to be kidding me.

   I was buying samalamig from a roadside vendor when I heard her talking to her kid:

   Manang selling cold melon juice: Anong dream mo, anak?
  
Kid of manang selling cold melon juice: (dances “Sayaw Darling”)

   Damn, I thought.  I suppose that the ambition of children have long since surrendered their innocence in favor of dreams that aim as low as height requirements for rollercoaster rides.  Back when I was a kid, all boys shared the same dream: to be an astronaut.  Girls were more noble: they all wanted to be nurses.  While we boys still try our darndest to be Captain Kirk, almost every girl who wanted to be a nurse back then is probably already a nurse now.

   Yet there are kids who still aim for the stars, if not to be stars themselves.  To be an “artista” is the most common dream I hear from girls nowadays.  I’ll be damned if they look like Maja Salvador by the time they grow up.

Jaded

   I was talking with an old batchmate of mine when the topic inevitably drifted to the matter of social action.  And so it comes with the jadedness of two guys bullshitting: him taking up law, me taking up the challenge of establishing myself as a “theorist” by the time I graduate.  In our heyday as young men in undergrad, we both shared the mantra of “down with the system.”  With someone like an Antonio Trillanes IV representing that same idea… well, it doesn’t sound so cool or so right anymore.

   I’m the first to admit that my social consciousness was made and formed in the streets by virtue of a placard or a streamer.  Yup, I was an activist.  I still am, although of a different sort.  I now make qualified distinctions between “militant,” “progressive,” “Leftist,” and so on and so forth.  The reason being is that having grown up with the general movement of the Marxist idea of improving society through struggles of many different sorts, walking the walk is different from talking the talk, and walking the talk is different from talking the walk.  Walking while talking is different from talking while walking.  It’s the way things are: it took me the better part of five years to figure that out.

   “Critical thinking” is more of a catchphrase to me than an actual practice: there is a difference in thinking critically and thinking in the end of criticizing.  “We denounce” is the kind of warcry you would see in a political statement, blowing everything out of proportion that every problem that there is in the country – or the world – can be pinpointed when you find someone to blame.  I’ve gotten a lot of flak for that over the years: where I have the power to write online, I do not blame.  You really have to look deep inside yourself to see if you are in the right plane to point fingers at anybody without your arm tiring.  Are you pointing up, or are you pointing down?

   All too often, the problems of this country aren’t supposed to be laid upon the finger of blame.  Judgment is reserved for those who can judge: those who themselves contribute to the decay of society in any way are bad judges of character.

   Jadedness… maybe it’s having to look from things at the other side of the fence for once.