Dean Alfar talks about “Six from Downtown”

Awesome author Dean Alfar took time out from his busy schedule to spend a Saturday morning chatting with me. The products are two episodes, first this one on his own fiction, and then a lengthy geek out session about Locke & Key (which I’ll be posting soon).

You can listen to Dean talk about “Six from Downtown” here at the podcast page. Feel free to stream, download, and share.

Dean is an engaging speaker, as anyone who has met him knows. And those who haven’t yet will want to after hearing his great ideas about writing, the fantastic, and attempts at capturing the Filipino urban experience. This is a fun half hour where I pick his brain about this great story which has won awards and been anthologised.

If you’re interested in the story or Dean’s other work, you can find his stuff on Amazon here.

You can also get the collection at Flipreads here.

Thanks for listening to the podcast. Please tell your friends if you liked it, and if you’d like to help me keep the lights on and keep this thing going, please feel free to click that donation button and leave however much you want.

Vincenz Serrano on New Order

Hey welcome back everybody!

Been gone for about a month, but here we are rolling on and bringing you a lot of new episodes for the new year. We start off talking music with poet, teacher, and music fan Vincenz Serrano.

We talk about a few New Order songs, trying to understand why we love the band and its music.

You can download the episode here.

You can listen to the songs we talk about in the videos below.

Thanks for dropping by and we hope that you’ll listen to the fun episodes that are lined up this year.

Francis Quina on Morning Glories

This was the second recorded episode, but with special events and the like the publishing was delayed. Nonetheless, it’s my pleasure to have writer, comic book aficionado, and my roommate at the UP Faculty Center, Francis Quina, talking about Morning Glories.

Definitely one of the most compelling ongoing series at present, Morning Glories tells the story of a mysterious school, where powers, the supernatural, and science fiction all collide. It’s a comic book that takes your breath away with its breakneck speed, plot twists, and jaw-dropping revelations. Francis and I pick it apart, trying to understand what makes it work so well, and talk about why we enjoy the comic book so much.

You can check out the podcast here.

If you’re interested in the book, here’s the official site.

And if you want to go pick it up in digital, you can find it on comixology here.

As always, thanks for listening to the podcast, please share and drop us a comment or whatever if you are enjoying it.

Next week, Vincenz Serrano talks about New Order!

Gerry Alanguilan and Eliza Victoria at the 3rd Readercon

The 3rd Filipino ReadeCon was held this Saturday, Dec. 7, at the Rizal Library in Ateneo. It was a great even celebrating readers and reading. I was fortunate enough to moderate one of the Writers as Readers panels.

Comics creator Gerry Alanguilan and writer Eliza Victoria talked about the books that they love. Afterwards the audience and I got to ask them some questions.

Give it a listen if you’re looking for reading recommendations, as these are in abundance through the talk. You’ll hear some great essential comics titles and a lot of horror novels and page turners.

You can listen to the podcast here.

You can visit Gerry Alanguilan’s blog here.

You can visit Eliza Victoria’s blog here.

Thanks for listening!

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Episode with Gabriela Lee: The Lumpen Culturati Podcast

In this week’s podcast we invite Prof. Gabriela Lee to geek out about Doctor Who. I know it says this episode is supposed to be about the 50th anniversary episode, but we go in all kinds of directions here. It’s a double length special because we were talking about so much Doctor lovin’ timey-wimey stuff.

We invite comments (please don’t kill me for all my flubs and lapses in Doctor mythos) and suggestions and also if you want to tell your friends and help promote please do so.

Not too much to put on this companion post since the discussion is pretty long. But we promise that we’ll also talk about the Five-ish Doctors soon too.

I’m trying out a new podcast hosting site (still working out the kinks and seeing where we work best), so I hope you’ll visit this new episode here. You can listen to it or download it from there. Enjoy guys!

Also, I’m going to need your help to keep this podcast running. As such, I’ve put a new donation button here on the blog, and anything you can give is much appreciated. I’ll use it to pay for podcasting space so that I can keep this show going. Thanks guys!

The Lumpen Culturati Podcast! Episode 1!

Starting from this post, the Lumpen Culturati blog transforms from the spot for the stuff I couldn’t have published in other places (and a sadly ignored blog for the last few months) into the companion blog for the new Lumpen Culturati podcast.

I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts, and I love them all. But they have mostly been review podcasts and I am hoping to fill a niche by discussing work on a more analytical (one hopes) level. I am hoping to bring forward smart conversation about cultural content in all its various forms.

I’ve also been part of a few attempts at podcasting, as well as some radio work. What I’ve found is that logistics and getting people together (and my own problematic schedule) have made it difficult for me to maintain those things. Now, I’ve got a nifty podcast app and I will be tracking down one or two guests for each episode.

The episodes will have me interviewing someone about a specific text (or set of texts in the case of comic book series). We want to turn people onto stuff that they might not be into yet, we want to show love for things that we love, and we want to talk about them in a deeper manner that encourages further discourse.

For the first episode I talk to Prof. Mikey Atienza about “Sink” by Isabel Yap. In discussing the story we question aspects of Filipino science fiction, look at a story set in the future that gives us  a  glimpse at the Greenhills we once knew, and question our humanity as we look at a little robot kid.

You can listen to the episode on soundcloud here.

If you’re interested in the story, you can get The Best of Philippine Speculative Fiction in print from the UP Press here.

If you want it in digital, it’s available at Flipreads here, or Amazon here. Or if you’re using other storefronts, I’m sure they will be available there too.

I hope you enjoy this first discussion, please listen and tell your friends.  Thanks everybody!

Fixing the Fixers

This is the start of a series of posts that I hope to write which will look at specific problems that we need to address. I support the general call to end corruption. But I find it a motherhood statement. When we say reforms, I think we should we can look at particular cases, see how these reflect larger social problems, and question how we might solve them.

We begin with the problem of fixers.

The thing is they aren’t fixing anything, are they? They really work to help perpetuate a culture of corruption. And as is the problem of many aspects of this culture of corruption, we accept that it as part of the system.

According to a cabbie, he had to pay P500 to get his papers processed. The cost should have been P300, but he had to pay a fixer P200. This was so that his papers would get processed within the day. Otherwise, they would keep pushing his paper back and it would take him two to three days to get the papers he needed. I will talk in a later post about our willingness to pay for expediting of government services. Here I just want to talk about the role of the fixer.

The fixer serves as middle man between the person trying to get government services and the government employee. So between client and service, there is this intermediary who serves to supposedly expedite papers. But what he actually does is forward the threat of your paper being set aside because it does not have someone backing it, making sure that attention is paid to it.

The seemingly easy solution is just to get rid of the fixers. But then I wind up thinking about how these fixers are actually part of an underground economy. Obviously this underground economy is detrimental to our society. You have these people tampering with the proper flow of the delivery of government services. You have to spend more than you should to receive those services. And you have transactions happening that are outside of proper procedures, so these people have income that is not taxed. (well of course not, the work itself is illegal.)

Think though, what do these people do? They have been entrenched in the system of government services since, well, most of us can remember. What are we supposed to do with them?

I did a study once on underground economies. I was surprised that one of the women who I interviewed, who was selling toys and similar items on the Philcoa underpass, was a college graduate. She said she earned more sitting there all day selling than she did when she was working an office job. So it could be more financially rewarding to work in an underground economy.

We have to consider that these fixers have families, and there is a major disruption that could occur with their abrupt removal. So even before the total dissolution of this system is attempted, we should have a clear plan of what to do so that engaging in this system becomes unattractive.

I figure, and I could be wrong, that what the fixer does is essentially run papers back and forth. They serve as our lobbyists in line, and what they do is cut in and jump ahead of the line for us (god I hate people who cut in line).

What we see here, and the reason why they can offer the services that they do, is that there is a scare resource. This resource is the attention of the government worker who has to process the papers. You have to pay the fixer, and the fixer in turn has to grab the government worker’s attention (also with money), so that you can get the attention of the government worker, which you are supposed to have in the first place because you have paid for those services with your taxes and the processing fees.

So the limited resources that allows for this system is the attention of the government official. So if we could increase that, then we could better address this problem. Then why not put the fixers to work also processing papers? Put them behind those desks and utilize that manpower to process those papers.

I know that these people are unqualified to process papers at the moment.

And I know that the fixers probably aren’t properly trained to do this processing. But they know the systems of the government institutions they are working with. What if we trained them to process papers?

Can you imagine how many more papers would be processed if you got all those fixers and employed them and put them to the task of helping to provide government service, rather than condoning the practice and letting them subvert the system of service delivery?

Proper training, proper employment, more efficient government service because you have taken that chunk of the underground economy and found a way to refocus it. You don’t just remove or dismantle. These people aren’t a cancer. But they are enabled by the cancer of corruption. Provided with the proper training and systems, they could be assets to our system of services.