1/26/2014
The stars say I am not what you say I am

I spent a good three hours this afternoon - an hour on the road, two waiting for a doctor to have my freak bald spot checked - listening to Triple J, partly because it's their annual countdown, and partly because I just like it.

I don't really need to bore you with the details, mostly because I already have bored you with them, in the many times I've blogged about it here and, especially, on earthings! Let's just say that with a phone that can connect to relatively fast mobile Internet, having to listen to local radio in most places is now mostly avoided. Why sit through DJs prattling on about things, before playing another song for the nth time in a day? I can plug my earphones in (or, if I'm driving, plug it into the car) and listen to more stuff. More imaginative stuff, more thought out stuff, just more stuff.

But there's one thing that's stopping me from listening completely to foreign radio stations on the road: the route I take doesn't have a good connection all throughout. Once you enter my subdivision, my connection loses its 3G-ness and heads to EDGE territory, and you can say goodbye to whatever it is you're listening. (Any discussion on whether your network is better than mine is not welcome in this blog entry.) I'd be able to listen to a Minnesotan's take on alternative for an hour or so, from the moment I leave my office, but once you get past the river dividing Muntinlupa and Bacoor, well, you're at the mercy of a cellsite.

Also, I love radio, and - again, I will be geeky - it does its best when it talks to you about things you both know and understand. Sure, a part of me will understand, sort of, what Daniella Sya means when she talks about a vehicle breakdown at the PIE near Tuas (and then I will wonder why there's always a vehicle breakdown at the PIE near Tuas), but in the end she's not talking about something I will completely relate to.

But loving radio doesn't get you anywhere. I guess this is the cynic in me talking. I love radio. I always have. But it's not enough to get me in the industry. Not anymore. When the old school dies, your airwaves will be filled with people who use radio as a stepping stone to get to television. You now have to look good to be able to talk about the same old headlines about Justin Bieber. (Sure, I understand that radio now has YouTube as an enemy, and thus has to be more visual than it ever was, but that doesn't mean paying magazine models to talk about, well, the same old headlines about Justin Bieber.) And then, maybe, you can take a career as a basketball commentator, where your apparent gift of gab can be put to more use. But that's just an option. You're cool now. You're cool enough to get free tickets to things.

In fact, I'll say that loving radio actually shrinks your chance of getting into the radio industry. But then again, I talk as a guy who foolishly used his real name on PinoyExchange when discussing radio stations changing formats, and still foolishly using his real name on a blog that complains about DJs that say stuff like "powdered soup is essentially soup in powdered form". That marks you as a geek, and what geeks like, the masses don't like; and what the masses like, the geeks don't like; and therefore, you will just cause more trouble with your insistence on not giving shoutouts to your Twitter followers.

And by now, you're pleading for me to stop. Niko, you're being too negative. Of course you have the chance to be on radio! You just have to work hard and think positive. And meet the right people, don't forget that, but I'm in a corporate job, and I've embraced it completely, and I'll just always be a disgruntled listener.

People have always told me that I am too negative. I always complain. I always see the bad things when everybody else sees the good. I always spoil the party and all that. I've sort of embraced that tag - I'm sure I described myself as either a pessimist or a cynic in most of my recent blog entries, including this one - but it's all because I'm left with no other choice. As much as we all like to call ourselves as "indescribable because we're human", we still need those tags to make people understand. You're the hard worker, you're the slacker, and I'm the pessimist you should avoid.

Honestly, though, I never saw myself as an out and out pessimist. A contrarian, perhaps; zagging is often a fun thing to do, but not an out and out pessimist. I say I'll never find love, but always hope for it. It's true that, since I got into a relationship a year ago, the way I see things changed. But no, not completely. I'm generally happier, but I will still see what you call the negative side of things when the situation calls for it.

I'll admit, all of this snapped into place just this afternoon. Rainy and I were at the bookstore; we had crêpes for breakfast, and she was whiling the time before she went home, and I was waiting for noon to strike before I could attend the baptism of a colleague's daughter. She's got a thing for the occult, a fact best illustrated with her claim that Mrs. Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children didn't creep her out. She enjoys American Horror Story, and convincing her to watch Hannibal went easier than I thought. So, well, we were at the paranormal section, or whatever you call it, browsing through books about Wiccans and tarot cards and, because it's just the natural place for it, booklets detailing a particular zodiac sign's fate for this year. Now I know that I will achieve some success this year, but should take good care of my health, and in particular, I should watch all the things I eat and drink. I now also know that I'm, err, sexy because I have stamina. But I tire easily, I thought, and dismissed it immediately.

The booklets also told me, in vaguely general terms, why I was what I was - essentially, I'm a Capricorn, therefore I act this way, not factoring in the idea that it's ridiculous to believe that being born between 22 December and 20 January leads you to act a particular way. (I mean, I have really yet to meet someone who acts exactly like me, and not to mock me.) I don't remember what exactly was written - although I do remember that it's detailed and long-winded and riddled with grammatical errors - but one paragraph particularly struck me. Capricorns, this astrology expert claims, are generally realistic. They may seem pessimistic, especially when things are just going very terribly, but no, they're actually realistic.

Now, I'm no astrology expert, and I do not want to know the nuances of what makes a Capricorn tick. I mean, many schools of thought on that one. But I know that we choose to believe what we want to believe, and we want to believe the things that agree with what we already know, so no, I am not pessimistic. I am not always filled with negative thoughts, about how the world will end because this and that. I am just, well, realistic.

So, no, I don't think things will miraculously change when we choose a president who proclaims to be good. This is why I've always been cynical towards Noynoy Aquino. This is why I am livid when I point out that he's essentially a corrupt president, only he's giving the benefits to other people; and yet, after all this, people revere him like the Messiah, because suddenly it's okay to settle with the "lesser evil". We still have corruption scandals, we still have clogged rivers, we still have billboards instead of trees. These things take a while. And maybe ten presidents.

No, I don't think call centers will save the Philippines from becoming a fourth-rate economy. Sure, it gives us money - lots of it, allowing people who can fake an American accent to drink beer in the morning and, maybe, buy a condominium unit. But our labor force will suffer in the long run; we'll have employees stuck in the graveyard shift, doing the same thing for ten years because there's no way to go up, and there are little skills along the way to enable them to move out. And these people, they tend to be college graduates who can't find anything in the field they want to be in, so they bite the bullet, work the night shifts, and stay there. Isn't this country brilliant? No proper jobs that will get us places.

Yes, I think it's hard to keep friends. You make them, you try hard to make them, and you have fun with them, but - and this is even if we all say otherwise - we move on, we lose contact, and we stop caring. In most cases, we stop caring. And in the few cases that we still do, we see our friends stop caring about us, because we just weren't that important to them in the first place.

I mean, I had a friend, and I eventually disliked her because she changed. And I have forgiven her, but I don't want to be friends with her anymore. I just don't see the point anymore. I've moved on. That's what happens. It still hurts me when it happens to me, but when I think that I've done it myself, I shrug. It happens. Being friends forever? It's a fairy tale thing. But that doesn't mean I don't try to make it real. That doesn't mean I don't try to make friends, that I don't try to keep them as friends for as long as possible, if not forever. Even if all we do is talk on Twitter, rather than drink in each other's houses, I will try to keep them as friends for as long as possible. Maybe have them as my wedding entourage. Housewarming guests. Baptism sponsors. On my bedside before I die. I'd like Rainy to be that person. (Well, except for the first three things; she will, obviously, have a different role.) I'd like her to be with me forever, and I will do everything to make sure that is the case. That's not pessimism. That's not optimism either. I'm just being realistic. That's what we do. That's what we ought to do.

Finally, local radio sucks not because of Love Radio, but because of those who imitated Love Radio, because they can't be arsed to put some thought into the things they put on the airwaves, as if having a transmitter is a divine right owed to them, rather than a privilege that can be revoked. I'll say it: I listen to Love Radio. At least their programs have thought put in it, even if most will say it's crass and corny. As if DJs who look pretty and speak exclusively in English makes it any classy. "Makislap na tae" and "glittery poop" are one and the same. Stop being so snotty.

And your responses...

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