LEVI McPHERSON, a graduate student of analytical chemistry at the University of North Central Florida, is approached by agents of the Homeland Security’s Counter-terrorism Unit. The agency is recruiting Lee to study and expose the loopholes of screening instruments in airports. Struggling financially, he accepted the offer, making him a paid, benevolent hacker of the nation’s gateway. Yet Levi is horrified when an Airbus from Los Angeles disintegrated in mid-air.

At 40, when everybody’s career trajectory is going up, Levi’s still a poor graduate student, struggling financially. His research projects however, are worth million dollars. Researching the highly classified and heavily guarded secrets of detecting traces of explosives, what Lee know was a goldmine. The agency's offer is his financial break . So Levi tackles the problem like a scientist, detailing the loopholes of the aviation security and turning what he knew into a big time money machine.

JIM and JONATHAN of the counter-terrorism unit, where nowhere to be found after Charlotte International Airport, a hub of Delta Airlines closed abruptly because of instrument malfunctions in their security lines. And in a post-Osama Bin Laden’s era, the biggest blow to the United Stated after the 9/11 disaster comes unexpectedly when a passenger plane blew up in the skies of Washington D.C., in the heart of the nation.

Levi knew it was only the start of more troubles, so he recruits his fellow graduate students to counter the future attacks. They have to think like criminals—and scientists too. With the help of FBI counter-terrorism experts, Homeland Security and Transportation Security Agency, the team races to close and plug the loopholes Lee identified.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Chemistry of Eraserheads

My neighbor back in UP Los Banos, whose brothers were studying in UP Diliman, introduced me to " Ultraelectromagnaticpop". And although the "technical" part of the music was not the best because it sounded like "Combo lata", still, it was appealing to me. It's like eating a buko pie in a box, the box is not the best technical presentation of the product, but the product is way good.

I hailed from the south, and Superferry is the popular transportation for us students from Mindanao visiting families for the Christmas breaks. The nauseating swell of the ocean and the boring 24 plus hours at the sea were countered by playing cards, ordering bubbles of beers and some intellectual discussions. You might know already that intellectual discussions under the influence of alcohol leads to nowhere, jumping from topic to topic. Out of nowhere, injected to the discussion was Eheads, and this person I don't know told the group he heard the music. The music was new and revolutionary; however, the band needs to pass the acid test for the second album or else Eheads will be a one-hit wonder.

(Acid test of a solution in chemistry is a litmus test. Just a side note, the mnemonic for the test is BRA, when a Blue litmus paper turns Red, the solution is Acidic and my students remember this always).

The second album definitely passed the test since their music was everywhere. Even the third album, which I thought they will label it "Star Witness", was a huge success. In a popular afternoon show, the band was telling the audience that their third album is on its way, and they were planning to name it "Star Witness". It was inspired by Jessica Alfaro who was the star witness of Vizconde Massacre. For some reason they changed it to " Cutterpillow", probably in respect to the on-going investigation.

Eraserheads brought the underground Pilipino music scene to the mainstream popular culture. Alternative bands sprouted everywhere just like mushrooms, after an overnight rain. I was lost in the pile of alternative bands during my college days. Then after a family reunion in Bicol, it reunited me again to the music of the band. My trip back to LB was long, and after watching "Crimson Tide" at the bus' television set, I grabbed my walkman, inserted the long lost Eheads first album. I could feel the goose bumps: this is how Eheads music was all about.

In 2002 I went to graduate school overseas, the same year E-Heads disbanded (or disbonded). I don't blame them for disbanding. When the popular Eagles band re-appeared probably ten years ago after almost 2 decades of hiatus, they toured the U.S. again and apologized to their fans, explaining that they "never broke up, only took a 17-year vacation". Again, I don't blame them. Even rock stars deserve a rest, a very long rest. In the process, Eagles produced an album titled "Hell Freezes Over".

Eheads crystalized into an icon and a representative of my generation. It may be a by-gone era someday just like Frank Sinatra's tune (remember your lolo's music), but the music will definitely stay and will not dissolve.

E-Heads will rebond. When? I don't know. Some rebonding processes take long, and others, shorter time. My guess is that the book " Tikman and langit" will be a catalyst (an enzyme) to make the reunification faster. My guess is that the band will tour the Philippines again; make an album from the tour titled "The return of the comeback strikes back again, part 2" . If " Ultraelectromagneticpop" is Voltes V inspired, the comeback album will be from Star Wars.

C’mon Eheads, don’t “shake your heads and walk away” from your fans.

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