I am feeling under the weather and, per wife’s orders, being quarantined today. To pass time and take my mind away from a wonky body, I revisited past journal entries. Found this list of 7 things I learned from emceeing a national conference of a government agency a few years ago. I had to chuckle as I recalled that fun experience.

  1. Study your spiels and practice saying potentially problematic words backstage. Otherwise, you’ll end up saying “thinthesith” when you ought to say “synthesis”.
  2. Remember that large-venue events now oftentimes employ video walls. That means your face is magnified a thousandfold on a video screen behind you. And when you make a face after mispronouncing (see No. 1), it becomes an even bigger blooper. (Also, you must convince yourself that the audience won’t really mind that zit on your face because they’ll think it’s a dead pixel on the video wall. Just don’t move your head too much.)
  3. Bring your own tumbler for coffee, one that can be sealed tight. Because you want the caffeine, but you don’t want to be spilling coffee on your shirt and/or pants.
  4. Make friends with your stage manager because he or she has the power to make your life a breeze or a tropical depression. Also, excessive ad-libbing makes your production crew sweat.
  5. Whether you like it or not, you should refer to government officials as “Honorable” when you call them to the podium to deliver monotonous speeches.
  6. Speaking of monotonous speeches, consider it your duty as master of ceremony to redeem your audience from these tragedies. You must use your timeĀ backstage to plot the rescue of your audience from the clutches of boredom after they had survived these lullabies disguised as speeches.
  7. When your director/producer/stage manager tells you to do a voice-over with more energy, you have to do it even if you fear sounding like a campy variety show host.

I miss emceeing. In another life, I make a living doing stand-up comedy, hosting a game show, or touring with a circus. I almost included “being a preacher” in that list, but remembered what a seasoned pastor friend told me after hearing my emceeing jokes at a ministers’ event: “Oh, Aleks, you’re too funny to be a pastor!”

Amen. I guess.

eyes age

A middle-aged lady came to the bookshop needing help with the audio bible that she had purchased from us. Being a tech enthusiast (read: geek-wannabe), I was asked by the retail manager to see if I could help address her concern.

Turns out, Lady Customer had issues loading the audio bible files onto her iPod. She brought along her laptop and the audio CDs. I asked to take a look, pulling the laptop screen closer to my eyes and squinting at the small display.

Me: Pasensya na po (Please excuse me), I’m nearsighted.

LC: You should wear glasses then.

Me: Oh, I have contact lenses on.

LC: Ah, si ser nagpapakabata…(sir is trying to look young, I see…)

Me: Bata pa po ako! (I’m still young!)

I might have sounded a tad too defensive. I was simply amused, really. Later she shared that she had problems with her eyesight, which was why she bought an audio bible.

Thank you for clarifying. No offense taken.

presence of mind

The most important thing to keep during an emergency is presence of mind, they tell you.

We were wrapping up a day’s work at the office today when the fire alarm went off. The shrill ringing sent everyone scurrying to the exits. Several of us men went to check whether there was an actual fire.

It turned out to be a false alarm.

I thought of our bookstore customers on the second floor and decided to go on the PA system to assure them there was nothing to worry about. After a co-worker had turned the PA system on, I spoke on the mic with nary a thought, adrenaline level still elevated…

“Good afternoon to our bookstore customers, we would like to apologize for the false alarm… of our fire… alarm.”

What?! Off mic. Laughter erupted around me! Fiery laughter, more shrill than the fire alarm.

And so, today I learn that the most important thing to keep when you disclaim an emergency is also presence of mind. And that laughter is always the best way to end a long work day. Even if it’s at your expense šŸ™‚

dirty translation

My friend Jeanix and I challenged our American friend Dan to show off his command of the Tagalog language. We asked him to translate to English a Tagalog song popularized by the Pinoy rock band Asin. Dan has lived in the Philippines for ten years and has managed to be conversant in both Tagalog and Cebuano. Quite impressive, actually.

Me (singing): Wala ka bang napapansin sa ating mga kapaligiran?
Dan (reciting his translation): Don’t you notice anyone from among your ‘barkada’?

Jeanix: Anuba, this isn’t a love song!
Me: And, hello! ‘Barkada’ is not English!

Next line, please.

Me: Kay dumi na ng hangin…
Dan: The air is dirty…

Jeanix and me: Good! Good!

Me: …pati na ang mga ilog natin.
Dan: Our… eggs… are also dirty?

Anuraw?! HAHAHA!

And just like that. The song will never ever be the same to me again.

‘one little two little three…’


PinoyĀ householdĀ hasĀ moreĀ gadgetsĀ thanĀ Indians

Is it just me, or is there something, er, odd about this headline? Hmm…

I don’t know about your household, but I thought I’d check mine. Three computers (one is a dead desktop), one or two portable audio players, cellphones (of course), a TV set with a busted DVD player, a stereo component gathering dust…

Searched under the bed, in the closets, in the toilet, under my pile of dirty laundry…

Nope, no Indians there.

apologies, mr dj

I don’t listen to radio much. But since getting new headsets for my Sony Ericsson cellphone (which salved my iPod Nano cravings, for now), I’ve been tuning in more often. I listen on the MRT commute, while reading a book in a coffee shop, or, like tonight, while doing some house tidying (ahem). I stick to FM stations that have not succumbed to the reformatting fad which spawned the exasperating “Kelangan pa bang imemorize ‘yan” tag lines, not to mention the distasteful double-meaning banter.

I know that radio thrives on interactivity. Jocks invite listeners to text in, call via landline, and, more recently, chat via Yahoo! Messenger. The jock I was listening to wasn’t any different; he repeatedly invited listeners to interact with him and his topic (on dreams and their meanings). I don’t mind hearing jocks talk in between the songs–some are fun to listen to, and some do make sense. But I thought this guy onboard tonight spoke too fast for his own good, stuttering and mispronouncing a lot. I mean, a lot. Right into my ears. In stereo and mega-bass mode.

So, in the spirit of interactive media, I thought I’d give him a heads-up. My computer was online, and YM was up. I dried my hands from doing the dishes, and tapped in a YM message:

u have to slow down a bit, man – the stuttering is getting to be irritating šŸ™‚

(Yep, I put a smiley at the end.) I hoped he would see the message and adjust accordingly. Well, he did see my message. And he read it… aloud! On-air!

If only he’d done a quick (silent) scan of the message, he would have realized it wasn’t for the airwaves. Instead he read it aloud right away, in his perky, modulated voice, almost as soon as I pressed enter! When he realized what he had just done, he immediately (and quite suavely, I must say) segued into the next song. I felt bad for him. So I attempted an apology…

me: “oops – sorry, dude – u didn’t have to read that on air.”
mr dj: “and oops… you had to type that.”

Yikes. I guess I couldn’t blame him for playing ten songs in a row after that. I tried to apologize again, but he seemed to have put me in his “Ignore” list. When he finally got back on-air (speaking a bit slower now, with just a little hint of sarcasm), he said that, “For some reason, I feel like I’m having a bad day.” He stuttered through that line, I’m afraid. Then he greeted “all” his YM chatters. Guess whose YM ID didn’t make the cordial roll call.

Oh well.