Friday, December 31

Full Metal Marathon

Yersterday I spent almost the whole day watching episodes of Full Metal Alchemist. In fact, of the 51 episodes, I watched up to episode 49. By the stroke of worst luck, the dvd I had of the last several episodes was apparently defective, not allowing play of the last two eps, despite the availability of two different models of mutant dvd players.

With the New Year celebration tomorrow, perhaps the earliest I can get the finale is on Sunday. Well, I can always revisit the the couple of dozen episodes I watched before.

After watching, I can pretty much say that FMA did not disappoint; the series retained the flavor it had in the first season I watched, mixing in continued action, drama, conspiracy, mystery, guilt and a dash of tragedy every now and then for a pretty gripping watch. It was simply impossible to keep from watching the next episode. Unlike most series, FMA seems to have pretty much everything wrapped neatly, with plots and characters consistently having connections that eventually are revealed towards the end. Of course, I still have the actual last two parts to see how it all ends, but even up to this point I am pretty satisfied with how the series has come. Again, highly recommended for mature anime enthusiasts.

Addendum: Apparently, a FMA movie is coming, and it is supposedly set after the events in the series. This probably means that any loose ends will be answered in the theatrical feature. Now I really really really need to watch those last two episodes...

Lastikman gets a bashing.

I just got a copy of Mars Ravelo's Lastikman, read through it, looked at the pages. As I've heard from early reviews and comments, the art, by Arnold Arre (Mythology Class, After Eden) is excellent, and as always has that 'Arre' look which I particularly like. The colors, on the other hand, while quite good, give me an impression of being muddy and subdued- I don't know if it's because of the palette used or the printing, but overall it seems a bit off-tuned to the supposedly comedic and lively tone of the title. Perhaps brighter colors would have been better? As it is, the book evokes to me that it is the comic adaptation of the Film Festival movie, which it is NOT, fortunately.
The story, by Gerry Alanguilan, does a good job of introducing the character of a stretchy alien coming to Earth and becoming a crime fighter, though perhaps the word of it being a wacky tale of comedy made me expect too much. In truth, the comic overall isn't laugh out loud funny, despite Arnold's portrayals of Lastikman's wilder contortions. Secondly, I found several scenes depending too much on narration, taking away from the character story. I also found the use of english and tagalog a bit jarring- it worked as a comedic vehicle in Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah, but seeing it used here just made the Filipino language look like inferior speech- something I am sure is not the intention, but in the end, whenever english is used it is spoken by a scientist or an alien. Maybe I am reading too much into it. Oh well.

Anyway, it really didn't help that I don't like the character at all. Never liked stretchy characters, don't like the shades for eyes (not even the art could make him likeable for me). No, Lastikman will always be that creepy character in the old tagalog movies that freaked me out when I was a kid- not scared, mind you- just freaked. He's just too weird. So I don't like the character. Don't like how he's an alien. Don't like his look. Don't like how he's such a WUSS in the comic and everyone else has to come to his aid- having the masa rise up towards the end and come to the aid of the hero is getting old. I hated that kind of scene in the first Spiderman movie, hate it here. Sigh.

The best thing in the comic for me is Atomika, an original character created for the comic by Gerry and Arnold. Unfortunately, she really shouldn't have had the clout she has in this book. That she has two pinups dedicated to her just shows where Gerry and Arnold's love in this work really went. Heh.

All things said and done, Lastikman is still a fine comic in terms of production. The art is great, the story good, the colors are nicely done and it's a one-shot and long enough to be worth 150 pesos. I just don't like it. Give me an Atomika comic and I'll take that over this anytime. So, Gerry and Arnold, hop to it!

Mars Ravelo's Lastikman from Mango Comics is available in bookstores and comic stores all over the Metro now. Go get it!

Thursday, December 30

Sweet Jam

The I-Mate Jam, the smallest Pocket PC Phone around.

It's my new object of lust; it's the I-Mate Jam AKA the O2 XDA II Mini, the world's smallest Pocket PC Phone to date. It basically gives you the capabilities of a Personal Computer, PDA, Video and Music Player, Handicam, 1.3 Megapixel Digital Camera, gaming console AND mobile phone. DAAAAAAMMMNNN!!!! Of course, I have all that already with my O2 XDA II, but the schtick with the Jam is that it's so incredibly SMALL. Smaller than an I-Pod. It's positively tiny and oh, so cute. I want it!!!

Of course, it's also a bit of a paradox. The smaller size also means, inevitably, smaller real estate for the Jam's screen- it's far smaller compared to the bigger PPC devices, which is a negative in a way. Paradox, I tell you- what makes it so desirable is also it's weakness. Oh well, you can't have everything. Aside from the much better camera, the only thing it one-ups my PPC is the size. Darn, it felt so nice and light in my hand (I was able to check out a unit in Mega).

If I could trade in my XDA II for the Jam (or the O2 XDA II Mini), I would probably do so. But then again, I'd probably have to decide what's more important- screen size, or portability.

Let's see what happens as the new year comes in. Heh.
Overstuffed Taco

I went out yesterday to keep from going MAD from staying in The Sanctum. The traffic is still pretty horrid, despite the fact that it's supposed to be holiday season (or perhaps that's the reason why?). I took the MRT to Cubao and decided to have merienda at Taco Bell. Bad idea, turns out. The place was PACKED, and throngs of people kept flooding in. I thought I'd be able to sit down and have a quick meal easily since I was alone, but DAMN. It turned out that every single seat in the place was either occupied or reserved by stinkin' family groups. GAH!!! So la-de-dah, I ended up eating my taco and quesadillas standing near the door, on the service counter (which is also the trash deposit area).

As I ate, the guard (who probably was in as much frustration as me since he was consigned to wear a Santa's hat along with his serious security guard uniform) gave me some apologetic words. The symphathetic fellow took off a bit of my miffedness, and I commented that they should either extend their area or get more seats since the demand is so high. Darn! It's only TACOS, people! What's the reason for the crowds? The food really isn't that great, there aren't any cool mascots nor is the place cheap. Is it all because the place is just new? Or is it the name 'Taco Bell' that strikes a chord? Well, for some reason or other, the place is doing outrageously good business, which should make the Pizza Hut people (they own the franchise) happy... and should herald more Taco Bells to come eventually.

So I finished my so-so food and was off for the rest of my day.

Tuesday, December 28

Cabin Fever

I've spent three days in The Sanctum since Christmas. Gotta get out tomorrow and do something. Thinking of going on down to Greenhills to pick up new anime, particularly the rest of the episodes of Full Metal Alchemist and some other stuff. Should also check out the new comics at the ol' Blood Bank, in case they do arrive in time. New Year's coming up, and then back to work. Gotta make good use of the last half of the vacation.

Monday, December 27

Full Metal Alchemist

The Elric Brothers, Al and Ed.

It's been quite a while since I first watched the first several episodes of Full Metal Alchemist. I've put the series aside since then since I got put off a bit by the flashback episodes, but this holiday break has finally allowed me to revisit the series in earnest. It helps that the series is now a big hit in the US, where it has been recently released. Aside from the anime (and the manga, still a Japan-only release), there are a couple of PS2 games out, so it's testament to this title's appeal.

Full Metal Alchemist concerns the adventures of Edward and Alphonse Elric, the young sons of a famous alchemist. After their mother dies, the two exceptionally gifted children use their powers of alchemy to try and bring her back. The attempt, a forbidden act as dictated by the Law of Conservation ('In order to gain something, you must give something of equal value'), fails, costing Edward his arm and leg and Al his entire body. In order to save his brother's soul, Ed binds it to a suit of armor. Years later, the two- a diminuative cyborg alchemist and a walking, talking suit of armor, search the world for the legendary Philosopher's Stone, in the hope of gaining back what they had lost. Despite what may be first assumed, the title of 'Full Metal Alchemist' refers not to Alphonse (the suit of armor), but to little (and elder) Ed, an alchemist genius who can use his powers even without drawing an array, or special alchemist's circle.

This unusual, and somewhat dark premise forms the backbone of a complex saga that involves powerful magic, action adventure and themes of sacrifice, loss, guilt, brotherly and familial love and always going forward no matter what. For an anime that has an exceptionally clean and 'cute' look to it, FMA is a predominantly melancholy, even sad, series. There are points in the title that are heartbreaking and emotionally powerful, offset slightly by a few moments of comedy and the brothers' inherent cheerfulness (and Edward's exceptional sensitivity to any remarks about his height). However, the story proves to be quite engaging and gripping once you get into it.
Aside from the brothers' quest, there are subplots that involve the agenda of Roy Mustang and his cohorts, a group of military alchemists who may or may not be allies to Ed and Al. Then there are enemies, such as the mysterious Scar, a man with a magical arm who seems to have made it his crusade to kill every alchemist in the world. And then, there are the Homunculi, a group of inhuman, behind-the-scenes villains who are named after the Seven Deadly Sins.

Mixing a coming-of-age saga with complex conspiracy and pretty cool magical powers, Full Metal Alchemist is an exceptional series that mature fans of anime should definitely check out. I've already cleared 18 episodes and I'm ready for more. Find it on VCD or DVD at your favorite anime and toy shops in the Metro.

Friday, December 24

From the Sanctum...

May you all be with the ones you love tonight.

May your tables be laden with the bounty of your labors.

May you be safe and happy and filled with joy at a year well done.

Merry, Merry Christmas to Everyone.

Thursday, December 23

Last Minute

I'm in a net cafe in Megamall. Came out of the house to finish up my last bits of Christmas chores, buy a couple of esoteric items, and deposit blood at the Blood Bank that is Comic Quest. The lines and crowds are still as thick as ever, and working ATMs are pretty hard to come by. Anyway, I don't expect to leave The Sanctum after tonight until well after Christmas- so I've got to finish it all now.

Darn, I'm hungry.

Wednesday, December 22

At Last

Today's the last working day of 2004.


From tomorrow till January 2, I'll be on vacation. That's about ten days of vegetating. Yum!

So, I hope to accomplish the following:

1. Read my unread comics pile.

2. Finish the last few K.I.A. pages.

3. Unlock all the costumes in Dead or Alive Ultimate.

4. Finish Metal Gear Solid 3 again.

5. Try to play some other games on Xbox and PS2.

6. Start writing some scripts and storylines for my 2005 projects.

7. Watch some of the Film Festival movies, particularly Enteng Kabisote, Sigaw, Lastikman and Spirit of the Glass.

8. Enjoy the new Sanctum.

9. Figure out how to send pictures to my parents' 3100s.

10. Watch some DVDs.

YEEEEAAAAHHHHH!!! 5:30 already. Gotta go.
Boxed Fantasy

Box full of troubles.

A recent splurge I did recently was on a boxed set of Fighting Fantasy books, an 8-box set consisting of titles written by writers Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone. Sure, they're derivative, cliche and really probably don't count as high fantasy literature, but they're damn fun. And they made my elementary and high school years quite entertaining. These books are part of the interactive-book rage that included Be An Interplanetary Spy, Choose Your Own Adventure, Which Way, Time Machine and countless other lines of pocketbooks. I purchased the set at Powerbooks at Greenbelt 3, while picking up gifts for friends. Good thing I was flush with Christmas Party prize money so I could afford the 2K set. Heh. I hope I get to read these books before they become classics AGAIN. Gotta make a point to at least browse through the hills of uread reading material I've amassed in 2004. Or at least put reading them into my New Year's Resolution. HOHO!
Ninja Babe needs your help!

"Who, me?"

Every so often, SOTA Toys, though, holds a vote on which characters from the Street Fighter universe gets included in the releases of their SF Series action figures. I only found out recently, and AFTER the voting for Series Three. I found out then that my favorite SF character, Ibuki the ninja girl, lost to Sakura by only a narrow margin.

Well, THIS time, I wanna make sure my super-cute SF assassin gets immortalized in action figure form. I ask you, gentle blog reader, to PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE vote for Ibuki to be included in Series Four of SOTA's Streetfighter figures.

To vote, just fill out an e-mail with your votes for the following categories:

Category 1 "The Headliner" - Akuma, Zangief
Category 2 "The Big Guy" - Birdy, Hugo
Category 3 "The Female Fighter" - Ibuki
Category 4 "The Good Guy" - Guy, Charlie, Fei Long
Category 5 "The 3rd Strike Character" - Remy, Necro, Oro

Now, of course, I don't care whom you choose in the other categories, as long as you VOTE FOR IBUKI.

In case you don't know shit about Street Fighter, I can save you the trouble of choosing from the other categories- you can just cut and paste this generic vote.

1. Akuma
2. Hugo
3. Ibuki
4. Guy
5. Oro

Send your e-mail to Put as the title 'Series Four votes'.

I really need your help on this one, gentle blog-readers. Please don't let me and my favorite ninja girl down. Deadline for the votes is on January 16, 2005 so vote now! Thanks in advance!
K.I.A. Update

It never fails. Despite all the well-laid plans of mice, men and indie comic producers, things still rarely go on schedule. Though I actually started on the Kai project LAST Christmas, it still hasn't come out in the time I wanted. Yes, I had wanted to release K.I.A. within this year (it had originally been planned to be out on my birthday), but things just didn't work out. Deadlines had to be extended. Pages were added. Artworks redone. And of course, budgets put together.

Well, let's just say that K.I.A. is a personal, pet project and it is being paid for from my own pocket. At the time of K.I.A.'s conception, I had just started in my present place of work and I felt I had adequate funds and then some. But of course, things got into the way and money rerouted here and there... Okay, I spent money on other stuff, so sue me. Heh. Local comics, as many of my friends already know, is a bleak and losing business here in the Philippines, if you don't have the moolah and connections to back your stuff up. You could have the best comic around but if you can't get it to people (ergo, have a distribution network), you're pretty much shot in the foot from the start. And it really didn't help that I got fat and lazy in 2004, being content more to just watch other, younger and more energetic talents rather than produce things myself.

Still, K.I.A. will push through. Comics are still my passion, my way of expression and I want K.I.A. to happen. I also want it to succeed, where most of my past works have either only barely done or flatly failed. That's why I'm taking it slow this time (which is, unfortunately, still not a guarantee for success).

Anyway, the Christmas shopping's pretty much done. Once I get into my vacation, I'll finish the last few pages, wait for the final contributions and get the whole kit and caboodle ready for production. Once we have product, I'll start the business end of the deal. Hopefully we'll have K.I.A. out within the first quarter of 2005. And then I can start moving forward again, on perhaps a new Angel Ace issue or a follow-up to Kai's new adventures.

We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, December 21

Ghosts of Christmas Present

I've written before that this year's Christmas was melancholy. That's being optimistic.

All month long we've been seeing misfortune heaped upon misfortunte on people, big and small. The people in villages destroyed by storms. Fans and supporters who lost an admired icon. Parents who've lost children to disasters. Men stranded far from home by circumstance. Countless people won't find Christmas cheery or comforting this year.

But of course, when you go out into the streets and the malls, it seems as if everything is business as usual. The songs are still playing. The shoppers are still crowding. The decors are still up and shining. But perhaps, just a bit, they're a little subdued this time.
This year hasn't been kind to many, but what can we do but live as well as we can, pray that the bad things don't happen to us, and try to lend a helping hand when we can. If you've been lucky enough to reach Christmas unscathed, take that as a gift already. Everything else is profit and waffle.

Just check your plugs, switches and fuses, and don't leave the Christmas lights on through the night. Keep your purses and doors secure and your houses cozy and tight. Greet your friends and your family and give the gifts that come from the heart. With only a few days left till the day, let's not take any chances.

Monday, December 20


It took a while, but the Sanctum's done. But though I have unloaded quite a bit of stuff and had new shelves installed, there was just barely enough space to go around. Still, the place looks a lot better than ever before. Once the paint fumes fade completely, it'll be home from now on.

Now... to start thinking up the next diabolical scheme to rule the world... MAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!!!!

Sunday, December 19


I finished the bulk of my Christmas Shopping today. Got my parents their new Nokia 3100 phones, which they really loved (yay!). Despite being a total technophobe, even Dad seems to be getting into the new, easy-to-use Nokia. As for Mom, she's taking to the new mobile like a fish to water, since her old phone, a 3530, seemed to work pretty much the same way.
Bought apparel for my bro and sister, and their spouses. I'm giving cash to the kiddies. All that's left are the household help, whom I'll probably get gift baskets or something within the week. I really made it a point to get things done today, since I really don't relish wading through the mobs at Greenhills or Megamall again very soon. All these saps just sap away your strength so quickly.

Well, I've got three days to rest and relax till the last couple of workdays for the year. Nice. Today's ROTK Sunday, with the college gang. Should be fun. Heh.
Mint Green

The Sanctum's walls are mint green. Mint Green.

Turns out that's the only colored paint we had in the quantity required, and mom didn't want to buy any more additional paint. It's a nice color, I guess. Really.

I've heard a long time ago that the color of the walls of a room may actually affect how you feel.

So whenever I'm in The Sanctum from now on... I'm going to feel... mildly jealous?


Anyway, the paint's drying. The new shelves are up. The TV's in the alcove, snug as a bug in a rug. Just waiting for the fumes to fade away before I start cleaning up, putting comics, magazines, books, dvds, vcds, toys and other shit where they should go, install the DVD player and make the place liveable and lived-in once more.

Plus, I'm expecting guests later today. Let's see what happens in the Sanctum Warming later today.

Saturday, December 18

It's early morning...

... and unfortunately, the Sanctum's not totally done.

Actually, it's ALMOST done. The ceiling's whole, and painted. The smell of it is strong in the air. Dust all about. Everything's still a mess. They'll be painting the walls and stuff tomorrow. I may have to move out ALL the stuff inside the room to make way.

Thinking of having the carpenters add some more shelf space. That would be neat. The Christmas break's started for me- four day weekend before I go to my last one and a half workdays of this year. Then it's all clear to Christmas and New Year. Should use part of that time to fix up the homestead. Then the rest to enjoy the bounty of the past year, and to finish up the last traces of 2004's plate.

It's been a long year.

It's about time.


Friday, December 17

Sanctum Sacrilege

Crash, crash. Crumble, crumble.

Early this morning, workmen came in and started tearing down the rafters. Don't worry, it was intentional... the Sanctum's being renovated. All month long my mom has had the house's old 'dirty' kitchen totally redone, extended and rebuilt (now it looks like a restaurant-sized kitchen). On the tail end of the construction, she had my room built as well. On the agenda was the ceiling, the creaky and cracked wood of which was to be replaced with new wooden beams, and the entertainment center area, which would be rebuilt to accomodate the new TV. The whole place would also be repainted, to do away with the unsightly tape-smears (and so, down with the anime posters...).

Well, I had to go sleep in my parents' room for the morning, I had to unplug all the equipment and move out some stuff, and the dust is going to cover EVERYTHING. But in the end, the Sanctum will be gorgeous and at the very least, dead cat-proof! WOOHOO!!!

Hopefully, all the construction would be done by tonight and tomorrow. If all goes well, I'll be coming home to a brand new Sanctum. Inconceivable!
Christmas Bash

Last night, the office had it's annual Christmas party at one of our officemates' residences in the south. As with our previous year's celebration, there was a theme which involves costumes, and this year it was famous pairs, or couples.

Well, I have a history with crappy costumes (pretty much since I prepare for them only about, oh, several hours before the event). Last year, with a 'carnival' theme, I came as a fortune teller using ANYTHING I could find in the house- tablecloths, a black armwarmer and some crystal globe I swiped from the living room. Well, this year I upheld that tradition.

My partner and I came as Crispin and Basilio, the ill-fated brothers from the Jose Rizal novel, Noli Me Tangere. Well, of course we had this grand idea of not coming in as your usual little kids in camiso de tsinos and tsinelas (old-style white undershirt and slippers). We had this whole concept of coming in as grownup versions of the two characters. I counselled coming in full barong tagalogs, but eventually my partner convinced me that a better storyline would be having Crispin and Basilio converted to Islam due to their persecution at the hands of the Spanish friars (which was their fate). So, we came wearing muslim attire (malong) and carrying deebeedees (dvds).

Suffice to say, we missed the whole point that you have to be recognized immediately on sight as who your 'pair' is supposed to be. And I guess it was quite obvious that two Muslim dvd pirates are worlds away from two urchins from the nation's most famous novel. So we WON Worst Costume of the night. But we got a cash prize!!!! YEEEEEAAAAAAHHH!!!!

Anyway, the night was nice with lots of food, music and laughter despite the overall melancholy feel of this year's Christmas. We're all hopeful of a better celebration next year. And a better cosutme, I guess. Heh.

Thursday, December 16

Phone Folks

I've finally gone on and moved forward with my decision to get my parents both new cellphones for Christmas. Now, while I would have wanted to get them spiffy hi-tech convergence devices like myself, I don't have the funds, nor do they have the like for such things. No, I'm getting them some nice, all-around phones to enjoy for the new year. I've pretty much decided on either Nokia 3100 or 3120 units, which have color screens, MMS, clear polyphonic ringtones and good, compact form factor. They're inexpensive, easy to use and very nice... perfect! I'll probably try and get the gifts this weekend, and give them in advance... better to avoid the last minute crush. Perhaps next year, if business is a lot better, I'll get my mom a phone with a camera. She'd love that. Heh.

Wednesday, December 15

Lastik Fantastik

That's gotta hurt.

Mars Ravelo's stretchable hero Lastikman gets an update for the times with the Mango Comics release. The 56-page, full color prestige format book (Php150) was worked on by two of local comics' most popular names- Wasted creator Gerry Alanguilan reaches into the side of his psyche that spawned his own wacky Crest Hut Butt Shop for the wacky, action-packed story, while After Eden's Arnold Arre stretches even his distinctive skills to the limit (heh) to come up with some spectacular panels. All this with colors by Edgar Tadeo and Ryan Orosco to make everything come alive from the page.

Anyway, haven't gotten my copy yet, but I will asap. I've heard good things, and I can't wait to see how it came out. The Mango Comic version, by the way, has no relation to the upcoming local movie of the same name. Lastikman the comic should be available in comic stores and bookstores in the Metro right by next week or so, thanks to some issues with printing. Grab a copy on sight!

Tuesday, December 14

Mini Stop

This morning I got to have some time to myself at a Mini-Stop, and I discovered a Choco-Nut flavored ice drop from Selecta Ice Cream. It totally captures the classic flavor of the 'masa' chocolate. YUMMY! I also got to taste the new Krispy Pao, which makes for a nice savoury meal along with the usual krispy wonton. I also saw, but was not able to try, the somewhat disturbing new combo sandwiches- SPAGHETTI sandwiches! As in, there's spaghetti noodles and sauce stuffed into a hot dog bun along with chicken or hot dog strips. Yeah, I eat pasta with bread alll the time... but for someone to actually sell a pasta sandwich is kinda new, I think. Something to try the next time I pass by our friendly neighborhood Korean convenience store.
What Could Have Been

Last night, despite having to do a bit of overtime, I was able to pop in a Features disc from the ROTK Extended Edition DVD Set into my new Sparkle DVD player for a bit of LOTR goodness. I watched several featurettes, all of which were quite interesting along the topic of bringing the Tolkien novels from the page to the script.

The coolest part involved an alternative yet ultimately abandoned scene which had the Dark Lord, Sauron actually taking to the field and battling Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) in combat. This was of course not in the books, though it was felt by the filmmakers at the time that they needed a suitable act of valor for Aragorn to accomplish on the battlefield before the Black Gate (since the creepy Mouth of Sauron character really wasn't a fighter).

So it was that they had this whole thing with Sauron appearing before the outnumbered Men of the West, first materializing as an angelic being of dazzling beauty. The apparition is supposedly that of Anatar, which was Sauron's guise thousands of years before when he tricked the races and created the One Ring. As the scene goes, Aragorn soon sees through the holy light, and Sauron reveals himself (pretty much as he was in the Battle of Golgoroth at the beginning of the Fellowship of the Ring). There are actual scenes showing Aragorn and the warriors of Gondor and Rohan battling a gigantic armored Sauron (though we don't see soldiers getting knocked into the air as in the FOTR battle) which was kinda neat.

In the end though, Peter Jackson and the writers felt that the whole thing just wasn't right, since it took the focus of the story and the weight of the problem to Aragorn, instead of to Frodo the ringbearer. So, the whole thing was eventually scrapped, with Aragorn's personal opponent being changed from Sauron to an Armored Battle Troll with CG, and the roles of the armies of men being relegated to fighting to distract the Eye and its forces from the real threat of the ringbearer.

Personally, I kinda liked the whole Sauron vs Aragorn thing. In the end though, I guess ROTK is better with what was eventually used. Just another cool little detail and footnote in this wonderful series of films. Can't wait to get deeper into the EE dvds and see what else I can discover.

Monday, December 13

Beyond Soccer

I loved the wild martial arts comedy Kung Fu Soccer with Stephen Chow. Fans of Mr. Chow are no doubt waiting for his next work, and I am too after seeing the hilarious trailer to Kung Fu Hustle.

Stephen plays Sing, a wannabee gangster who is somewhat hampered in his efforts to become a member of the dreaded Ax Gang because of his general incompetence. The Axe Gang in the meantime is continually being stymied in its goal to conquer and control a sacred street where almost everyone is a martial artist or has super powers. Sing finds himself trying first to take over the street himself, but later he finds out that he has an even greater destiny to fulfill.

The trailer to this movie is being shown often on AXN, and it's hilarious. There's super-powered martial arts stunts, slapstick humor and the wonderfully flashyl CG effects as only the Hong Kong filmmakers do. I'll be sure to check this one out when it becomes available here in our parts, by late December or early 2005.

The end of an age is right here.

With this final acquisition, I have completed my Lord of the Rings Extended DVD Set Collection. The final film was the biggest of the series, with the most special effects shots and the longest additional scenes- almost a whole hour of new footage to further complement the already glorious story.
I'm looking to start watching the documentaries and featurettes tonight. Soon, very soon, I hope to hold a LOTR Marathon, watching all three extended cuts in a row. When? When I have time to, of course. Perhaps on a weekend or over the Christmas break. That's my LOTR event of this year, the last one before we all move on and the films make for the Grey Havens of movie history.

Will we see another film trilogy or series to match LOTR, as Star Wars (the original films) did for the previous generation? We'll see.

Sunday, December 12

Mutant DVD Player

It's not a name you'd normally associate with DVD players, but that didn't keep me from snagging a Sparkle DVD player with that very name just a couple of hours ago. My old DVD player-component set is about three to five years old, and it's been acting up lately. So I decided to enter the new year with a new player. And at just 2,500 pesos, it's a great package! Not only does the Sparkle player play any region DVDs, it can play either PAL or NTSC discs and has scads of options and output options. Best of all, unlike the more popular Next Base players, even if the remote gets busted, you won't have to go through life without being able to navigate through DVD menus since there are controls on the player itself. Great!

I'll still be keeping the components installed, and perhaps use the speakers to augment the new player's performance. And of course, the ol' Promac VCD players staying as well for episodic anime watches.

Speaking of anime, I picked up several new series to check out. Bleach is all about a hotheaded guy who suddenly finds out one day that invisible demons and demon hunters are battling it out in modern day Japan. He soon gets involved in this secret conflict when he suddenly finds himself wielding the powers of one of the demon hunters. Grenadier is a western-fantasy adventure, starring a busty blonde heroine who wields a mean gun. Slayers meets six-shooters? Looks like it. Finally, Beet the Vandel Buster looks like a swords-and-sorcery action title starring some young adventurers, led of course by the titular hero.
On the DVD movie front, picked up Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, an Asian film entitled City of Lost Children, and Mulan 2 for the kiddies. I'll be getting my copy of the extended cut set of Return of the King tomorrow, so that's something to look forward to. Yay!
The PSP has landed

... at least in Japan. Sales of Sony's first handheld, portable console have been brisk, and the initial stock of 200,000 units is expected to sell out pretty fast. Available along with the unit are several accessories and 6 launch games.

Haven't seen it yet here, though I am told that the new mini-Playstation is already available, selling at about 12,000 pesos (which is a great price for such a new kit). I'm fully intending on getting myself a PSP, if not this Christmas perhaps in early 2005. We'll see...
Christmas Quest

Last night was the Comic Quest Christmas Party. The gang got together in a rented condo with chips and dip, lots of drinks and then later, a feast of KFC chicken, savoury and spicy pasta courtesy of Andrew, barbecue and White Chocolate Mousse from me and balikbayan Camille.
The majority of the night was taken up by a series of trivia games on the subject of Marvel, DC, Indie/Local Comics and Anime. Later, during the wee hours of the morning, the group got to playing rounds of the drinking games Deprivation and Specialist, sans the liquor. It was still pretty fun despite us all being sober (though a bit sleepy). Let's do it again next year!

Saturday, December 11


Last night, Jason brought his copy of The Return of the King Extended DVD Set, which he got from a local dvd dealer. Thanks to the big demand for the set, Vin's supplier messed up and I've had to go elsewhere for my own set. I'll hopefully be getting mine on Sunday.
Anyway, last night we were able to watch several featurettes. As before in the two previous Extended Version sets, the usual cast of producers, designers and cast members narrate the development of the film. This one though has an air of saying farewell, or finality and moving on. It's sad, but gloriously so. I can't wait for Sunday.

Friday, December 10

Tekken 5 in the Home

Take Christie Montiero (and the rest of the Tekken crew) home with you in 2005.

The PS2 version of Tekken 5 will be arriving in early to mid-2005, according to Namco. The development team is shooting for an almost perfect conversion, and this should be possible given that the arcade version is powered by little more than slightly enhanced PS2 hardware.
Aside from arcade-perfect gameplay and graphics, the home version will feature new modes of play including a totally new side-game (ala Tekken Bowl in the past), a simplified custom mode where you can outfit your fighter with various duds and accessories, and a story mode oozing with CG movies. In fact, Tekken 5 will have the most CG cinematics of any Tekken game ever, according to the Namco representative. Each character will have a CG ending to tell his or her part in the continuing Iron Fist saga.
Several time-release characters have already been revealed in the arcade versions- Anna Williams, the sister of blonde bombshell Nina, taekwondo expert Baek Doo-San (who was feared dead prior to Tekken Tag Tournament), and Roger the kangaroo.
Holy Smoke!

There's a HUGE billowing cloud of smoke rising in the distance, easily visible from our office along Ayala Avenue in Makati. Speculations on what is burning range from a building being constructed, and a squatter area. Anyway, we haven't heard any sirens so the firemen must be taking a nap right now as Rome burns. Oh well.

Thursday, December 9

Rut Busting

One of the directions I am considering for my new comic project is an Asian Horror-Suspense title. I've never done anything in comics even vaguely resembling horror... not even a Halloween special for Angel Ace. Some would say that K.C. Strange with Nikki Alfar or Crystal with Jason Banico would count, but these are more action titles.

A horror title would require that the main character be unprepared souls being drawn or snared by a mysterious supernatural force. No special fighting skills, no enemies to battle, no heroics or certainty that it will all end well.

This would be pretty interesting to do, and horror titles are just so 'in' right now, given the hordes of both local and foreign horror movies lurking into theaters, and the runaway success of even shows like Nginiig: The Hidden Files.

Darn this is something totally new to me. How I'll go about it is still unsure at this point. Maybe I'll listen to some of my dreams. Whatever. I'll try to start looking in the darkness and see if something answers.

Left Field

One of my officemates got herself a Nokia N-Gage QD recently. Actually, she started off buying one as a gift for someone else, then suddenly found herself totally crazy over the Finnish gaming phone. So now, she's installing games and apps up the wazoo, and having fun. This from a person who previously owned very business-like phone models. It's great to be able to let go and do unexpected every now and then. Like me wearing boots suddenly one day. Or having green hair. Or eating veggies. Right...

Hmm. Boots... Mmmm...

I had to wake up extra-early today, thanks to a 9 AM appointment at work. Took a cold shower, hied off to the MRT and Cubao. On my way to the EDSA MRT, I decided I had time for breakfast at the nearby Dunkin' Donuts. Aside from myself, there was only one other customer at the counter. There were three DD personnel manning the place. There were no other people at the place at the time.
The counter-monkey attending the lady before me was taking a looooooooong time. This lady customer herself was asking for everything as well. They were taking their time. All this while, the other DD personnel were doing something else in the back room. I started thumping my fingers on the counter.

Still, the customer and the counter monkey continued their rambling. How long does it take to order coffee and a muffin?

After some minutes of thumping my fingers and looking expectantly at the other DD crew without response, I pulled up a chair from the nearby table and sat.

STILL the counter monkey and the customer weren't finished. From the time I entered to the time I pulled up a chair, it was four minutes.

One of the Dunkin Donuts crew came out finally from the back room and started polishing the tables, never mind that I was there waiting and not being attended. Five Minutes.

I snapped.

In the calmest voice I could manage, I spoke to the second crewperson, asking if it was standard procedure to have only ONE person handling the counter when there are other customers waiting. She looked at me blankly, not knowing what to do. I had to spell it out for her. SERVE ME, WENCH!!! Well, actually I didn't say that, I just motioned for her to go to the counter and get my order. VERY calmly. Finally, she jotted down my order and got to fixing up my stuff.

STILL the other counter monkey and the other customer weren't finished. After I finished giving my order, it was only then that the other customer left with her muffin and coffee. SEVEN MINUTES to order FUCKING COFFEE AND A MUFFIN. The counter monkey finally takes my money.

This early and I'm crabby. Well, I had a horrible ride on the MRT to deal with right after. The early morning MRT crowd was present in legion, with solid walls of enemy humans waiting for trains to arrive. Even before you get on board you are squeezed into a tight mass with sweaty, smelly Others. Three trains pass by, and none of us can get in. There's space in the last two, but the people standing by the train doors won't budge- it's a greed thing, really. By the time the fourth train comes by, the waiting crowd had enough. There was easily space in the cars, but AGAIN the sentinels at the doors don't budge. The waiting throng surges forward, totally pushing forward and forcing the way into the car. I spend the first half of the ride standing in the middle of the train, hands at my sides. I don't need to hang onto the safety rails- I am squeezed in so tight I couldn't move, much less fall over even if I wanted to. Just huddled in tight as cheese with smelly, sweaty masses. Gah.

It's times like these that make me hate early morning commutes. Someday I hope to have a car to go to work everyday. But I guess I have to get a driver to do the work for me. If I get this crabby just commuting, imagine my road rage if I get behind a steering wheel.


Wednesday, December 8

War in the Pocket

I've been able to acquire a CD with tons of apps and games for my O2 XDA II Pocket PC Phone. Of course, my favorite is the full version of Age of Empires, which lets me go midieval on enemy kingdoms arses. Having such a classic and brilliant RTS game playable anywhere I go is simply mind-blowing, though I have to admit that playing it for prolonged periods of time would drain my battery pretty fast. Other games include the classic Battleship, Ms. Pac Man, Seven Seas and a simple but cool stylus-powered game called Reckless Thief- basically you just guide a dot through a maze while avoiding touching the walls or any of the moving obstacles. It's cool and strangely addictive to make it throught the maze in the given time limit, and it's great stylus training. Heh.

On the multimedia front, I've fallen in love with Pocket TV, a PPC app that lets you play MPEGs on your PDA. I've been so used to seeing the reduced-frame run of Smartmovie, that the clearer, more fluid movement of actual MPEGs totally blew me away. The only problem is that MPEGs are a lot bigger in size than Smartmovie AVIs, so a full movie would probably take up a huge chunk of even my gigabyte storage space. As it is, I've decided to retain full movies and episodes in Smartmovie, while special clips and shorts that I want to see in quality will be reserved for Pocket TV viewing.

So far I've gotten used to using the XDA II quite well, and so far I'm in bliss with it. Yep, three weeks almost and no temptations yet. Looks like the PDA Phone is it for me. Hope, hope.

Tuesday, December 7

Greater Evil

Leon takes out a cellphone thief with an appropriate level of force.

Capcom gives you another reason to pick up a Gamecube with Resident Evil 4.

Of all the consoles of the current generation, the Nintendo Gamecube is the only one I don't have. This is pretty much since I don't really like the 'kiddy' and 'cutesy' flavor of most of the Big N's franchises, such as Mario, Zelda and so forth. They don't even have great fighting games on the roster! The only games that I like on the GC are the few mature titles, often being creepy games such as Eternal Darkness.
Well, THE creepy game of them all, Resident Evil, will be coming out soon on the Cube with the latest chapter, Resident Evil 4. The game looks incredible, with really detailed character models, and apparently some fairly considerable leaps in gameplay and story.

RE4 stars Leon Kennedy, the former cop from Raccoon City-turned Special Agent. From what has been revealed, it seems that Leon has put the past behind him- the T-Virus, Umbrella, Raccoon City and zombies... all of this plays absolutely no part in this game and story (well, actually not totally no part- a certain female agent from Leon's past just may be appearing in the game as well). Leon has arrived in the mysterious European village of Pueblo to find and rescue the President's missing daughter. But of course, we all know that nothing will be simple or straightforward.

Soon after arriving in Pueblo, Leon finds that the villagers are not ordinary country folk... in fact, they're downright homicidal, burning his companions on a stake, and then later coming after Leon himself in frenzied, scythe and hatchet-wielding mobs. Leon has to use everything in his arsenal and skills to survive this rural nightmare. According to Capcom, these villagers are NOT zombies... but we think that they're not totally human either. Anyway, even being Un-Undead doesn't keep these hicks from getting blown away with Leon's available firepower, making for some pretty gruesome shootouts (clearly, this is going to be an M-rated game).
Resident Evil 4's gameplay now includes the ability to target specific parts of the body- arms, legs, body, head- and doing so will have various effects on your enemies. Enemies also sometimes drop items, or even money which you can use to purchase ammo and new guns from a mysterious merchant. The various menus, including the item menus, have been modified. In fact, it looks a lot like in Diablo's, where you have to manage your items to fit in an inventory with finite space. Pretty cool.

While RE4 really looks great, I have to say that there's pretty much no way that I am buying a Gamecube just for it. I hope that the rumors of PS2 and Xbox ports of the latest RE games is true... I'm bored with mowing down guards and commandos with guns. Wanna try the firepower on some townspeople for a change. Heh. Resident Evil 4 for the Gamecube will hit stores in early 2005.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

I learned yesterday that a friend of mine lost her brand-new cellphone to a thief over the weekend. This pisses me off to no end, since she really liked and deserved the upgrade. The theft occured right in Megamall, which is really not surprising since our malls are fairly crawling with these bastards (another friend of mine had his phone stolen right from the counter in front of him by thieves who posed as customers).

We're not safe anywhere; not really in our own homes, yet doubly more so wherever strangers and outsiders have access. The nicer our gadgets and toys get, the more expensive they become. And so, it's inescapable that we have to be a lot more vigilant. It's better to be a paranoid than to be a victim, that's what I say.

I really wish though that this event does not make my friend fearful of upgrading or getting good phones in the future. It's bad enough that you get victimized and lose a great gadget. For you to become traumatized and then make do with lesser stuff for fear of getting victimized again is adding insult to injury. Had a nice phone stolen? Get a nicer one. Just be a lot more careful next time though.
We should never let these blasted criminals make us change our ways because of them. We work hard to earn the things we want, so we should be able to enjoy them. We just have to be aware that in this day and age, extra-care is needed for us to keep our valuables out of scummy hands.

FUCK all these thieves. If I had my way, I'd bash their heads in with a gold baseball bat. All of them. The whole filthy lot. BAH.

I have to admit it, I've been stuck in one for some time now. I have to deal with these things every now and then, so it's really not a big deal. In terms of comics, I've been mainly just buying and not creating for quite some time now- K.I.A. is in a bit of production limbo, as I wait for the last few pages to be sent in, and then trouble over production. Whatever happens, the Kai anthology special is a go for 2005, but I really have to do something else. I haven't really drawn stuff in months. Over the weekend I worked on a nice little racket, which involved drawing a bunch of characters, and it really amazed me at how my hands have degraded thanks to inaction. I NEED to start drawing again, start thinking and creating. Inactivity is death for creativity, so I have to get busy.

Last night, I sat down and got a piece of paper, and set down the startings of a page. I stared at it for awhile and nothing happened. No, it won't be as easy as that. I've already got tons of pencilled pages just waiting to be actualized- in particular, a whole issue of Angel Ace. That will have its due time, like K.I.A. But apart from my bread-and-butter projects, I think I need something totally new to challenge my neurons and photons.

So I got to thinking about something new. Something totally unlike anything I've done yet. Well, probably not entirely new- it will still probably have a sexy female lead or two... but we'll see what happens as I think up something. Heeeey. I guess watching Paranoia Agent may have knocked something loose in the ol' noodle. Let's see what happens.
Coming Very Soon

Stretching your way before Christmas.

Powerbooks, Greenbelt 4, 4PM on December 14. Written by Gerry Alanguilan, with art by Arnold Arre and Edgar Tadeo. Scuttlebutt has been saying that the Lastikman pages are among Arnold's best ever. Can't wait to see it. Let's all meet there when it happens. Or at least get a copy of this obra when it comes out.

Saturday, December 4

My Creepy Anime Fix of the Year

Forget everything you knew about anime and take a whack at Paranoia Agent.

If there’s one good thing that happened last stormy Thursday, it was that I was able to watch the trippy anime Paranoia Agent, and boy what a mind-trip that was. This 13-episode series is yet another nail in the coffin of the statement that anime is just for kids.

From the twisted mind of anime maestro Satoshi Kon (Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress), Paranoia Agent is a title that resists being placed easily into any category. Part murder-mystery psychological thriller, part black comedy, party Ringu/The Grudge-esque horror, part social commentary and urban legend, Paranoia Agent would feel right at home with anime like Serial Experiments Lain.
The story begins with a young woman named Sagi, a famous character designer in Japan. She had just created a popular cute mascot, and is now under intense pressure to come up with something even better. One night, while heading home, she is suddenly attacked by a mysterious assailant. Later, when she is interviewed by the police, she relates that the attacker was a little boy, armed with a bent golden baseball bat, and wearing golden rollerblades.
While the account of a boy rampaging in the streets striking people down sounds absurd to the police at first, things suddenly take a bizarre turn when ANOTHER victim falls to the bat-wielding attacker. Now dubbed Shonen Bat (Bat Boy), the elusive suspect soon begins to strike with alarming frequency and increasing violence. Who is Shonen Bat? Does he really exist? And who will be his next target…? Is that the sound of rollerblades that I hear..?

This is one creepy anime, and you can pretty much tell that from the opening animation/credits, where you see the various characters standing before you in a myriad of locales and settings, just staring at you and laughing, while the haunting (and catchy) opening song plays. The show itself is animated excellently, with a pseudo-realistic/caricaturist visual style that is anything but wide-eyed cutesy anime. Each episode seems to focus on a prospective victim, and we see their life spiraling out of control little by little through the show. At the point when all seems darkest, Bat Boy appears like some grim reaper, dispensing pain and… relief? But as his appearances become more and more frequent, Shonen Bat’s attacks also become more vicious and sinister. What is he? Is he real or not? Can he be stopped? And who will be his next victim?

This is also a pretty mature show- there’s sex, nudity, violence and other stuff that marks this as off-limits for kiddies (as are most of director Kon’s shows). But these elements are never gratuitous, and the heaviest stuff concerns things that relate to society (particularly Japanese society), such as topics of bullying, the blurring of the lines between fantasy and reality, the need to belong and simply the terrible stress of modern life.
Not what you’d think someone like me would like, but before I knew it, I was hooked into this offbeat show. And I think a lot of you out there will be too, if you give Paranoid Agent a try. A little madness never hurt anyone. Well, a hit to the head with a bat would, but it’s only an anime. Right? RIGHT?

Just remember to always watch your back. And when you hear rollerblades, don’t forget to DUCK. Heh.

Thursday, December 2

Dark Day

Stayed home today because of Typhoon Yoyong. The office sent everyone off after lunch anyway, so it was a good decision. The skies were dark and gloomy the whole day, but only now is the rain and wind gaining strength as the storm finally reaches us. Nothing to do but hunker down, stay dry and weather it out. Let’s hope tomorrow’s a brighter day, in every sense of the word.

Wednesday, December 1

Dark Cravings

Temptation and chocolate are one and the same.

I missed out on the gang's Max Brenner night out last week, and as if by some strange coincidence I encounter the gourmet chocolate name again right at my building. There's a much-publicized tiangge (flea market) being held today, the event sponsored by HDTV. Me and my officemates trooped up to see what all the fuss was all about at the 40th floor of the nearby adjoining tower. I turns out that the 'tiangge' is a showcase of various brands supported or advertised by HDTV, and as such the prices of all the items are nowhere near a real tiangge's level. There were high-class brands like PRADA and TEFAL on display, with most items going for at least several hundred pesos apiece. A tiangge? This was more a fair rather than anything else. Anyway, the otherwise empty 40th floor had been converted into a makeshift mall and shoppers were eating it up.
Fighting back the temptation to look through a table of VCDs, I found myself in front of the Max Brenner's chocolate stand. There were gourmet chocolates with various mixes of spices, pecans and nuts aplenty, along with piles of colored boxes and tins. I had a small sample, left, then returned for a second look. The cheapest thing they had cost almost two hundred pesos, so the miser in me bristled. Eventually though, when one of my friends bought a bar, I relented and got myself a box of the dark pleasures. THREE HUNDRED PESOS FOR CHOCOLATE! DAMMMN!!!

Anyway, as another friend of mine always says, 'Live a little.' Let's have a taste of something different and new for a change. One of these days I'll make it a point to eat lunch or something at the Max Brenner's resto, and finally lay my craving to rest.

Tuesday, November 30

Last Hurrah

Within this month, the final charge of the Lord of the Rings films by Peter Jackson and company will be sounded, with the release of the Extended DVD Set of The Return of the King. As mentioned before, this 3rd volume of easily one of the best DVD packages of all time will contain an additional 50 minutes of new scenes and footage, plus more than 20 hours of material on ROTK, which is more than enough for any fan or film enthusiast. That's a whole DAY of stuff to watch! Anyone who's seen the previous two sets can attest that the featurettes, making-of's and audio commentaries are well worth the price of admission.
I can't wait to get my hands on this final set. Anyone who's interested should try and ask if your favorite video shop accepts orders or reservations (most do). Once I get mine, can you say, 'LOTR Marathon'? Heh.

In the meantime, you can check out the new 6-minute trailer to the ROTK Extended DVD Set, by clicking here.

Monday, November 29


That's how I felt the whole of yesterday.

The rains of Typhoon Winnie (EH?) pattered outside non-stop, and it was hypnotic. The air was cool enough that I kept The Sanctum's climate control off. Just wanted to curl up on the bed in the cool mattress and sheets and pillows and just sleep. Sleep the whole day. And listen to the rain with the lights off.

Well, I did pretty much that. Yeah, storms are pretty crappy... unless you're safe and snug at home that is. Heh.

Sunday, November 28

Snake in the Grass

Yesterday, I did something that I haven't done in months. Perhaps even in a year or two. I stayed at home and played a videogame the whole day. Back in the days of the PS1 and the halcyon days of gaming, these marathons were rife in the Sanctum. In recent years though, with mediocre games aplenty (despite often having great graphics) and the hectic pace of life muscling in, it's been hard to devote any large amount of time to any game.

That is, unless the game is something really special. Something like a new Final Fantasy. A new Dead or Alive, Tekken or Virtua Fighter game. Or, a Metal Gear Solid game.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater once again puts intrepid gamers into the sneaking suit of Snake, a one-man army and stealth commando working for the U.S.A. Unlike previous MGS games though, the hero of the third game lives in the 1960s, during the height of the Cold War. A group of power-hungry Russian soldiers, allied with some key defectors, is plotting to change the balance of power in the Soviet Union, using a powerful new weapon known as The Shagohod. Snake is sent in to extract the scientist in charge of the project and stop the villains' plot for world domination.
However, since this IS a Metal Gear game, you just know that nothing will go as planned. Snake has to deal with double crosses, double-dealings, a twisting plot and LOTS of historical references (and oddly enough, lots of old movie references too). He'll also face squads and squads of heavily-armed guards, booby traps and yet another crew of oddball bosses to deal with before all the drama is over.

I started playing just after lunch, and got right into the sneaking. MGS3 controls pretty much like the previous games, though it seems to be a lot easier now. There's still a bit of irritating lag time between switching from a crouched position back to standing, but perhaps that's just me. Otherwise, controlling Snake is pretty precised and slick.

Whereas the first two MGS games were set primarily in industrial, indoor areas, the majority of Snake Eater's story and gameplay takes place outdoors, in jungles, forests and swamps. As you have been dropped behind enemy lines, the game takes great pains to dramatize the need to 'survive' in a hostile environment. This includes the need to forage and hunt for food- which is basically anything organic that has the misfortune of walking or crawling in a hungry commando's way (this does not, thankfully, include the enemy guards). Stick an animal or edible-looking plant with your knife, and it's turn into a nice canned ration for you to eat. And you WILL eat, since MGS3 now has a 'Stamina' meter along with your usual Life gauge. The life meter needs to be kept up and high or your performance will be impeded, and healing with not come as quick. You'll eat everything from bugs to rabbits to mushrooms- in fact, after a while you'll be carrying a whole ZOO in your backpack to munch on.
Aside from the more detailed eating mechanic, healing has also been given a more detailed treatment. Often when you're injured, the injuries need to be 'treated' in the Cure menu- you have to use supplies like Sutures, Bandages, Disinfectants and other medicine to treat your wounds. It's a nice mechanic at first, but in the end it kinda slows the action down (since you can do it anytime). I guess in the 60s they didn't have Instant-Heal Rations yet. While it dramatizes the gritty need to survive well, in the end it's pretty tedious and I hope they streamline it better next time.

Otherwise, the game moves with gamer-friendly pacing. This also seems to be one of the more forgiving MGS games- though there is a constant need to be stealthy and invisible, you CAN actually fight your way out of most encounters if you're too clumsy (like me). Snake seems to have an incredible capacity to withstand torrents of bullets, and ammo and weaponry is in abundant supply. Guards usually aren't inexhaustible, so there's really nothing stopping you from mowing down the hapless sentinels in your way.
The Boss fights are still the high points of MGS3's gameplay. Snake Eater's band of misfit bosses are members of the Cobra Unit, each of whom seems to be named after the emotion they sow in combat; The Pain, The Fear, The End, The Fury... these guys are pretty weird even for MGS standards, but they're actually pretty fun to fight. The most unusual just HAS to be The End- a hundred-year old sniper (who looks like Santa Claus in combat gear) who engages you in a lethal game of tag in a forest stage.

LIke the past games, MGS3 also presents a long, involved storyline... as I've always said, producer Hideo Kojima has aspirations for cinema, and his latest game reflects this once again. Complete with a James Bond-like theme song, love interests, and long, long cut scenes presenting the convoluted story, MGS3 is pretty much an interactive movie you watch as much as play. While this may turn off some gamers, it suits me just fine... though some of the exposition parts are just too hokey (Yeah, let's talk about old movies while I'm in the middle of a firefight with some KGB troops!). In fact, the game doesn't really take itself too seriously, even ribbing itself with some references to elements of ill-repute from the previous chapter.

Before I knew it, the clock was at 4 AM... THE HELL??! I had been playing over 13 hours. And I haven't finished yet. This game definitely warrants a second playing, to enjoy it more thoroughly and discover stuff I missed on the way. I have to say that the old magic is still here, and the franchise is still alive and well. MGS fans will eat this up like... well, a nice snake steak, bloody raw and yummy tasty. And we'll probably be hungry for more.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is available now for the PS2. Go get it!

Thursday, November 25

Long Break

By virtue of Monday being a public holiday, the coming weekend is going to be a bit longer and a bit more restful. Got a game or two I have lined up to play, a bunch of anime and movies to convert to mobile format and hours of sleep to catch up to. Of course, there are some odd chores to catch up on, like pages of art and stuff that will earn me a pretty penny. Hopefully I'll be able to make the most of the break, so I'll free up the rest of my time for the inevitably hectic task of holiday shopping. Ah, just one more day to bliss...

Wednesday, November 24

Me Got Game

Three new games for The Sanctum's pleasure. These include the latest tactical-stealth action title, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, the swashbuckling run-and-jump adventure sequel Prince of Persia 2: The Warrior Within and the blatant titillation all-female wrestling game, Rumble Roses.

I've played and finished both previous MGS titles, so I'm fully intending on playing and finishing MGS3 as a matter of course. The reviews have been good, and I am dying to get back into Snake's boots again. The story and the new characters look great- there's a whole new crop of freaky villains to take on, which once again reinforces my view of Metal Gear as the Ninja Scroll of military action games. That's something to get into over the long weekend.
I'm not really a big fan of run-and-jump titles- my coordination and attention span is pretty limited- but the cool visuals and storyline of POP:TWW is intriguing. The new Prince of Persia takes up the story a few years after the end of the first game, with the embattled Prince still being pursued by death, this time in the form of a mysterious island swarming with deadly foes. His only hope- to slay the mysterious Empress of Time. Ooh. With Ninja Gaiden-esque play, maybe I can get through this game and see the saucy stuff. Like actress Monica Bellucci's sexy onscreen NPC, Khardreena. Yum.

Finally, Rumble Roses. Let me say that as a DOA fan, I appreciate fan service and beautiful girls doing martial arts onscreen. That said, RR basically stuffs your face into the proverbial crotch. This game is pretty much interested in one thing- and that's to make gamers play with their joysticks. Not that there's anything I dislike about that... this really takes guilty pleasure to a whole new level.

Well! Lots of stuff to occupy myself. Anyway, there's stuff to do as well, so I'll try to keep some hours productive before I dive into these new distractions. Heh.
Upgrade Complete

Pocket PC Full Plate Mail+3

For the past few days since I got my XDA II, my brother and I have been pretty much regularly meeting late in the night when we're both at home. Since we both have the same device, our favorite thing to do now is to show off the newest thing we've discovered, the latest app or game we've installed, or the latest accessory we've added. I guess I was right to convince my bro to keep his XDA instead of going for the P910i. He'd probably be soooo green with envy and bored with the P9 when he sees me tinkering away on my Pocket PC phone.

The last couple of days saw us installing several games, including a version of the classic Ms. Pac Man, the excellent shooter Sky Force and the incredibly addictive Bejeweled. We also installed the demo version of Age of Empires for the PC, which amazingly seems true to the PC original, except for the size of the screen. I am fully intending to get the full version of this great title. I have to say though that I will keep gaming down to a minimum, since it is such a power hog. With minimal use of games and apps and just texting, the XDA II will easily last the whole day on a full charge. With normal use, you may probably reduce the power to about a third by the end of the day (late night). To remedy this, I got an extra charger for the office, so that should keep me powered up no matter what.

The next upgrade is a 1 Gigabyte SD Card, which pretty much lets me stuff hours of anime, action scenes, game and movie trailers and R-rated clips for anytime, anywhere viewing. My old 256 MMC card is now dedicated to music, and I've stuffed that full of tunes long enough for any road trip.

The last addition to my XDA II's arsenal is... armor! Yep. I decided that the leather case included with the phone was just too bulky, and the beltclip was not securely fastened enough for my liking. So I got a metal case that fits the phone like a... well, a metal glove. The effect now is that my XDA II looks like a liquor flask, which is kinda cool. The fit is perfect- there are orifices for all the buttons and connections, and the whole shell is snug and pretty slick. There's even a cool little slot for holding back-up memory cards in the inside. Excellent! But of course, the most important part of the metal shell is the belt clip, which is much more secure and resistant to removal than the simple clips of most other holsters. I tried it out, liked and it, and took it. Excellent!

And so, my little mobile warrior is prepped up and girded for any battle. All I have to do now is take care of it, and see that I take special care from now on, even weeks from now. That is, of course, assuming that I don't find another super phone in the next few weeks. Heh. Kidding... No, really. Gah.

Monday, November 22

Battle Angel

James "I'm the King of the World!" Cameron has gone on record that his next film will be an adaptation of the Yukito Kishiro manga/anime Battle Angel Alita. In order to fully capture the image of a lethally-cute cyborg-sprite with octopus lips, Alita aka Gally the Battle Angel will be a fully-CG character. Will the whole film be in CG, ala the Pixar films, or will it be like Who Framed Roger Rabbit with real settings?

Anyway, this should be pretty cool to wait for. The film is supposedly in pre-production already. Still a ways off, this one is. Hopefully, it will be worth the wait.
19 years of bloodshed

Yesterday, Comic Quest, my favorite blood bank, turned 19.

I remember my first experiences with CQ, as a student in my white polo and khakis. I'd go over to the branch in Greenhills to ogle at the colorful rows of comics, graphic novels, toys and other goodies I could only dream of holding and affording. I remember asking the shopkeeper to let me look at the books... and I'd remember them covered totally in plastic, with the man hovering over me, knowing that I could not afford them and just itching to snatch them back from my hands.

Yep, my experiences early on with CQ weren't the best. But thanks to the fact that Vin is nowhere near as hostile as his short-sighted old man was then (Don't displease your young customers, merchants- they grow up to become your valued clients) I buy pretty much ALL my comics at Comic Quest. Doesn't hurt that it's cool to browse and see the stuff you're spending your hard-earned blood on.
Anyway, CQ's my second home, the oasis amidst the chaos that is Megamall, tambayan for the gang and domain of the Time Twister himself, Vin. May it see more comics, fantasies, toys, fun, friendship and bloodletting for decades more to come.
Test Run


I woke up LATE and had to rush. I clicked on my XDA II to the belt clip, packed my bag and was off.

Rode the MRT, arrived at Cubao. As I entered Farmer's Plaza, there was a hubbub as a female shoplifter was apparently caught and surrounded by a crowd of angry shopkeepers and cashier girls. A guard came running and collared the sullen bitch, who was defiantly snarling 'My relative is a policeman! A Major!' (In tagalog, of course) even as she was led away (no doubt to be put in stocks).
Rode the second MRT, arrived at Buendia. Rode the FX.

One slight mishap- the belt clip actually LET GO, so I'll be thinking of either putting the XDA in my pocket on commutes, instead of on my belt. Either that or I have to find a more secure belt holster.

Anyway, looked at the power supply. After the night's initial charge, it's half a day and the main power is still at just below 90 percent. We'll see how much it lasts to the end of the day. WOOHOO!!! Looks good and things went smoothly. And even in a hectic commute, I didn't lose my new toy! Yay! Now, back to work.


Where's my laptop..?


Sunday, November 21

Crash, Crash. Crumble, Crumble.

I got my brand-new O2 XDA II today. My brother eventually decided to keep his XDA since I reasoned that he'd probably feel limited if he got my P910i. So, we went to Greenhills and switched from Sony Ericsson to O2. After an early pizza dinner, we were off home again to charge up my new toy.
It took some time (and one CRASH), but I was able to synch the XDA to my PC and install a couple of apps, including my favorite Smartmovie. I never thought I'd find myself using Microsoft Outlook, but then again, a couple of years ago I never thought I'd find myself using cellphones. Heh.

I was able to text right away, but it still remains to be seen how it performs on a working day. The larger size is also something I have to get used to. I am thinking of getting a metal shell/jacket accessory. Also want to find by hook or by crook a copy of Age of Empires for the PPC. Conquering civilizations in real time on the MRT.... DAAAAAMN!!!! I'm also planning to buy a Gig-size SD or MMC card... perhaps for Christmas. Well, the holidays came early this year... TWICE now.

Well, with no superphone likely to come out before Christmas, I guess this is it. I've run the gamut, from a crappy walkie-talkie Motorola to a portable computer that was at one time the most expensive phone device around (48K, down to these days at about 43K in proper shops). There really is nowhere else to go from here.

Is that a tear in my eye? Oh well.

To Kat: Yep, the O2 XDA II's pretty awesome, but it IS a computer, with computer tendencies and faults (like occasional crashes). But otherwise, it's DAMN cool. It WILL take quite a bit of time for me to get used to this new OS, way of communicating, the various options and the stuff the thing can do.
To Apostle: Thanks for the warning. Anyway, I'm pretty used to charging my phone daily. If the battery lasts me a full day, It's fine with me. We'll see.

Saturday, November 20

Beyond Phone Whoredom

Life beyond my P910i.

When the MADman acquired his P910i, he wept for there were no more phones to conquer.

He was wrong.

To update you all, a week or two ago, my older brother won himself a Nokia 7610 in a raffle (which leads me to believe that our family has finally broken our lifelong curse of raffle-unluckiness). Of course, while most people will probably be overjoyed and be satisfied with the megapixel-fashion phone, my bro wasn't. In fact, a couple of days after he got it he was already thinking of selling it along with his 2-month old K700 and getting a P910i. However, the Sony Ericsson PDA-phone was still to expensive, and in the end he found instead a great alternative in the O2 XDA II, for which he traded in both his phones in a straight swap.
Well, after two days I finally got to look at the XDA II, and I have to say, I'm in LOVE. Or heavily infatuated.

While the P910i is a PDA-Phone, which is basically a phone that has PDA functions, the XDA II is a Phone-PDA... a PDA with phone functions. Which means that it is pretty much a mini-computer you bring around, powered by a hefty 400 MHz processor, 128 MB of ram, Windows programs and compatibility, and the ability to use more mainstrean (non-Memory Stick) memory expansion. In english terms, I can play videos and music with no problems at all, even Windows media and MPEGs (along with my favorite Smartmovie), have tons of apps and games. All this plus I can do Word and Excel documents, surf the web completely (even use my ISP Bonanza cards with it), enjoy WiFi, and Gosh knows what else. Oh, and watch my Smartmovies. TONS and TONS of them since I can load up a Gigabyte-size SD or MMC memory card anytime. WWWWWOOOOOOHHHH!!!!

Which begs the question, why didn't I get the XDA before, instead of spending a bundle on the P910? Well, I wasn't too hot with PDAs before, and it was just too big a risk to take. I also thought it would be too big (it's even bigger than the P910i, but not unmanageable for me). But seeing the XDA now, and feeling it in my hand and seeing what it can do... My gosh. Just the screen- the HUGE screen that dwarfs even my P910's... is mesmerizing...

I have half a mind to march off to Greenhills and get a brand-new XDA II (But I will surely get shortchanged). Or better yet, trade my P910i for my bro's XDA II. It depends on how we go about it. It's not final, but seeing as how gung-ho about these things I am, it's almost a done deal. Maybe. We'll see. Heh.

Friday, November 19

Marvelous Team Ups

Read the adventures of Crystal for free right now!

Jason Banico of Baylans and Dynatica has put up a cool site with all the recent comic projects he has done alongside various artists. These include Carlo Vergara (Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah), Armand Roy Canlas (Armor Troopers), Honoel Ibardolaza (Homanga, Gomanga), Ner Pedrina (Sanduguan) and Jake Bilbao. Oh, and there's a guy named Marco Dimaano too! Jason works with a lot of people.

The stories are mostly action-fantasy or sci-fi, including Baylans Prologue, Crystal and the Sorority of Light, Bagani, Mystic Machine Maharlika, Tikbalang Nation and The Pact. To ever see these stories, you either have to buy the indie comics at Comic Quest, or wait for the (eternally delayed) Cherry Blossom High. So, take a hint and read them NOW NOW NOW for FREE FREE FREE!

Click here for pages and pages of comics!

Thursday, November 18

Tekken it to the Next Level

The newest King of Iron Fist Tournament game, Tekken 5, is now in arcades in Japan and Asia (though not yet here, I guess). The game shipped out on November 16, and by now fighting gamers starved for a good arcade brawler are probably swarming all over it.
The end bosses of Tekken 5 are Devil Jin and Jinpachi Mishima. Similar to Devil in Tekken 2, the diabolical form of Jin Kazama comes complete with flapping black wings and lazer eyebeams. Jinpachi is actually the father of the late Heihachi, though those familiar with Tekken lore and backstory will already know this. The elder Mishima appears as an even older version of Heihachi, and he transforms into a fiery, demonic incarnation for battle- which kinda looks like a cross between Heihachi and Soul Edge. Monstrously powerful, Jinpachi may or may not be playable, though if he isn't, that would be a first since past end bosses have always been unlockable.

Tekken fan that I am, I'll be keeping my eyes out for this one in the major arcades (those that are left, anyway). The home versions for Tekken 5 are expected in early to mid-2005.

Wednesday, November 17

10 Signs that You've Been Reading Too Much George R.R. Martin

1. Your dream pet is a dire wolf.

2. You say 'ser' instead of 'sir'.

3. You find yourself making up cast lists for a Game of Thrones movie.

4. When in restaurants, you often order lamprey pie.

5. You feel very uncomfortable at weddings.

6. You have a soft spot for dwarves.

7. You enjoy laughing at a good jape.

8. You often name your pets after dead relatives.

9. You find villains a lot cooler than heroes.

10. You wish you could shit gold.
Date with a She-Devil

The She-devil strikes in the month of hearts.

FINALLY! The 8-issue Shanna the She-Devil mini-series has been given a February 2005 release date. A comic about a gorgeous leather bikini-clad vixen taking on dinosaurs and evildoers in steamy jungles? What's not to love??? Of course, the best part of this is that it's being drawn by Frank Cho, one of my favorite artists and one guy who just draws sexy babes right. Mr. Cho has already stated in interviews that he's reinventing the character from the ground up, with little of the baggage (Ka-zar, environmental schtick) and more of the sexy good stuff you'd want to see in a jungle girl comic. Sexist? Without a doubt. But DAMN it should look incredible.
Shanna the She-Devil will be part of Marvel's MAX line, so expect it to be rated mature and have a bit of nudity in the pages. We'll all see when the comic comes out early next year.
Storm of Reading

Over the prolonged break, I started AND finished reading A Storm of Swords, the third book in the Song of Ice and Fire trilogy by George R.R. Martin. Let's just say that I was left at a precipice by the second book, and could not help but be drawn into a snowballing session of more midieval fantasy, high-level political power plays, duels and battles to the death, conquest, journeys and more power plays. The third book sees more crowned heads rolling, leaving the many-sided war started in Clash of Kings pretty much over. But death doesn't seem to be that much of an obstacle for some characters, as the power to resurrect the dead has come back to the world courtesy of the power of a new god; Rh'llor, the lord of light.

Secrets have been revealed, yet more questions, particularly about the futures of characters we follow addictively (whether we hate or love them) have arisen. The power of the books so far come from the way this epic is told from multiple viewpoints, from various sides of the battle. This volume showed us that even the so-called villains of the saga- specifically members of the powerful Lannister family- can be seen with a sympathetic eye and even become 'good'. Which is great since the so-called "good guys" have an irritating way of walking into bloody deathtraps with impunity.

Well, that's it then. I had wanted to save SOS for reading this Christmas, but I just couldn't resist. NOW that I've finished, there's nothing more to do except perhaps track down the side-stories or other stuff by George R.R. Martin. The next book, A Feast For Crows, has yet to get a firm release date, so it's all waiting from here on it. Darn! Oh well, I guess I could just read the books AGAIN. What's an addict to do? Heh.

Monday, November 15

Ninja Anime

Ninja enthusiasts need no other anime series aside from Naruto.

With the Inu Yasha anime over for now, I've been looking for new titles to get into. One of them is Naruto, which can probably be described as the definitive ninja anime. Set in a world where ninja and their skills are commonplace and large towns or even villages populated entirely of ninja exist, Naruto combines cool animation, long and complex battles, interesting characters and the ninja mystique to form one of the most popular anime out there right now.
In the Hidden Leaf Village of ninja, young Uzumaki Naruto is an outcast; many years ago, a powerful and dangerous fox spirit was sealed into the boy's body. Being a prison for a demon has not made life easy at all for the orphan, but despite it all, Naruto grew up as a good-natured and fun-loving youth, if a bit loud-mouthed and brash. His goal is to one day become the Hokage- the greatest ninja in the village. Naruto's closest comrades include Sasuke, a taciturn young genius who immediately becomes his closest rival, and Sakura, a lovely ninja girl whom Naruto has a crush on. Complicating matters is the fact that Sakura has eyes only for Sasuke, and has an opinion that Naruto is a good-for-nothing windbag.
Naruto's animation is pretty good, and places a big emphasis on the characters' use of jutse, or ninja magic. Along with these powerful special techniques, Naruto and company's battles with enemy ninja are fought with shuriken and kunai- more traditional ninja weapons.

So far, I've watched almost twenty episodes of the series, and I have to say that it's a very leisurely-paced series. A story arc- with Naruto and his friends going on their first serious job- lasts more than 13 episodes, with one major battle between the heroes and two enemy ninja lasting over 8 episodes! The episodes, as it turns out, are pretty short at just a little over twenty minutes each, and often the first several minutes are devoted to flashbacks or scenes from the previous chapter.

Despite this, the series is pretty addictive and cool to watch- and with over a hundred episodes already out, that's a LOT of ninja fighting action to check out. Well, I guess I'm hooked, ninja fan that I am. Fans of ninja action and cool comedy and action would do well to check Naruto out.

Saturday, November 13

Back into the War

After reading a cool article in Dragon Magazine, I finally got back into reading the second book of George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire saga. Continuing the saga of noble houses, knights, assassins, warriors and warfare in the midieval land of Westeros started in A Game of Thrones, the second book, A Clash of Kings, sees the land divided among no less than five would-be monarchs. But as is the way with war, there are cullings and crowned heads are laid low. Meanwhile, far in the north, the faltering strength of the Night Watch prepares for a deadly battle with the Wildling army of Mance Rayder, and whatever strength the bandit lord is gathering.
As before, following this multi-faceted fantasy/political/midieval epic unfold through the eyes of various individuals has its ups and downs- ups when you follow characters that totally capture your interest (Tyrion, Catelyn, Jon, Daenerys), down when you are forced to look away and focus on other, less likeable or interesting plots (Theon, Bran). Still, the whole reading experience is absorbing and irritatingly addictive- I have to read it in the late hours, and before I know it, it's MORNING and I still want to move to-the-next-chapter... Aaaah...

I really should slow down. The fourth book, A Feast of Crows, isn't out yet, and I have only the third book, A Storm of Swords, after Clash of Kings. I hate the idea of being left at a precipice waiting for the saga's continuation, but that seems to be inevitable. Oh well.

Friday, November 12


After a pretty exhausting week full of mad scrambling, we can all finally look forward to a long weekend break. It's with a bit of pain that I found out that my favorite shopping place for games, gadgets and videos, Virra Mall in Greenhills, is going to be renovated, or worse, torn down to make way for a new mall. It was inevitable, given that the main Virra Mall building has been there since I was a little kid.

I remember several years ago, Virra Mall on the 3rd Floor was THE hub for electronic gaming and entertainment, with all the major and always updated game shops and arcades present in force. Every week was Christmas with new games. It was cool to just watch gamers have at it with the latest Tekken, Streetfighter or other new brawler released. Heaven.
That all changed with a fire that gutted the nearby Jollibee, and drove all happiness from the floor. It would take a long time for things to become regular again- in many ways, the old world and the glory was lost forever. Nowadays, Virral Mall is still rife with bootleg videos, games and dvds. The pirates are irritating in their intrusive persistence, and the place literally stinks of decay sometimes. Yeah, it's about time for change I guess. At least make the place cleaner, better lit and less shady-looking. Will it also entail the place be more expensive? Part of Virra's appeal was the rock-bottom prices of goods, but perhaps even that is something that we cannot bank on forever.

Tomorrow, I'll try to pass by and see what's left, or what's happening to a place I both love and hate. It's gonna hurt to say goodbye to it, but not too much. Well, nothing a trip to other Black Markets won't fix. Heh.

Wednesday, November 10

Snake Eater

Snake’s back in MGS3. Or is he?

The latest Metal Gear game is almost upon us. Once again, players will be injected into the combat boots of super agent Solid Snake as he once again takes on a mission of utmost importance, international espionage, impenetrable conspiracy gobbledygook, eccentric villains and the titular giant mech waiting in the wings.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater takes some different roads from the past MGS games. For one, the game is set mostly in the outdoors, specifically in some pretty thick jungles. In addition to battling balaclava-clad soldiers, Snake has to deal with the local wildlife, deadly booby traps and the challenge of keeping alive and regaining health by hunting and eating some of the local fauna.
But of course, despite having new gameplay mechanics gleaned from some survivalist handbook, MGS3 still has your requisite heavy-handed plot, complete with hours of codec communications, non-interactive cinematics and dramatic dialogue.

The beautiful and mysterious Boss.

There’s a new cast of characters, including new main villain Volgin, a beautiful but cold female soldier known as The Boss (who seems to be Snake’s former mentor), new love interest Eva and the token scientist in peril, Sokolov. Snake Eater’s equivalent to Foxhound is Cobra group, an odd group of misfit characters which include guys with names like The Fear, The End, The Sorrow, The Pain and The Fury. The HELL? Who does these names? Well, lucky for us ol’ Revolver Ocelot makes an appearance, as his younger self. Yep, since MGS3 is set in the 60s, Ocelot is a young, arrogant Soviet soldier who has a particular affinity for pistols. How he eventually starts liking six-shooters and cowboy boots may be explained in this game.

Now, with the game being set in the 60s (with Snake being sent in to stop a planned coup by Volgin and The Boss to upset the balance of power in Russia with nukes and the new/old Metal Gear), we therefore are wondering WHY Snake is there. Is the Snake in Snake Eater the same Solid Snake in the previous MGS games? Or is the main character actually Big Boss, the father of good ol’ Solid, Liquid and Solidus Snake?

I am thinking perhaps Time Travel may have something to do with the whole thing. Or maybe I could be wrong. Well, anything is possible with MGS, that’s for sure. The only way to find out is to play the game when it comes out on PS2 in the next couple of weeks.
Low-budget meal, big-budget dream

I had another fantasy/action movie-quality dream this morning. Perhaps it had something to do with me eating a Fat Dog and a Chicken Teriyaki Crispy Pao from a Mini-Stop in the wee hours of the morning.

Anyway, the dream starts off with a red-headed femme fatale dressed in D&D-style leathers emerging from a cavern with a pre-teen male companion and a donkey. She tells the kid to stay behind and hide himself while she goes off to finish whatever it is she has to finish. I am then treated to a quite lovely panoramic view of a vast forested mountain realm. Pretty cool and grand in a Discovery Channel sort of way. Anyway, it doesn't last and soon the dream cuts to a pretty austere ancient Japanese-style midieval fortress, complete with long lines of soldiers dressed in maroon overcoats and pennants marching here and there.
Our heroine entered the fortress without being challenged by the guards, and inside she met with her contact and discussed their plans, while smoking an odd pipe tabacco. It is here that I learn that the maroon-coats are soldiers of a corrupt regime Red Sonja and friends are attempting to unseat.
Later, there's some action as our heroine starts sneaking through the fortress interior, dodging guards and patrols as she makes her way closer to her goal. Finally though, as she enters a crucial hallway, there's a sudden noise and alarm, and I hear... The Green Hornet theme?!?

Argh. I wake up to the daily alarm of my cellphone, the Green Hornet score from Kill Bill shaking me from sleep, dreams and the kingdom of the maroon tyrant. As much as I tried to get back to sleep, the dream did not come back. Oh well. I'm sure Red Sonja can handle herself without my prying eyes. Maybe if I eat at Mini-Stop again I'll find my way back to that dream. Maybe.

Tuesday, November 9


Cape Manipulation is one of the Siths' more obscure skills.

All together now... Evil... is... Good!

Well, not really. But you'd be fooled into thinking that with how much everyone seems to be finding the newly-evil Anakin Skywalker so cool in the upcoming Star Wars Episode Three: Rise of the Sith. Now armed with an even more sullen expression and yellow contacts, the former Jedi Padawan and soon to be Dark Lord of the Sith is set to exterminate his goodie-two shoes brethren in 2005. The teaser trailer for the last SW film (or so it has been said) is already online and ready for download in numerous sites.

The short but sweet trailer fittingly enough starts with footage from the original Star Wars: A New Hope, with Obi Wan Kenobi (Sir Alec Guinness) telling young moisture farmer Luke Skywalker about his pupil, Darth Vader, and how this dark jedi led the Empire in destroying the Jedi Knights. What follows then is a storm of footage crammed with space battles, lightsabers, wookies and... the Black Suit. Oooh.

Okay, the first two Prequel Star Wars were more hype that anything else, and here we are at the end. It's a given that we'll be all watching the finale, but lowering expectations should be in order to prevent the backlash that inevitably followed after watching Episodes One and Two. Let's see if Mr. Lucas can at least end his flawed saga with a reasonably cool final foray into the Galaxy of Far, Far Away.
Unfinished Business

Urge to kill lazy MADman rising...

With 2004 fast coming to a close, there is one thing I have on my plate to polish off before closing my book on this year.

K.I.A. has been delayed for quite some time, but considering that I started the project just early this year I don't think it's that straying far from the path... especially when you consider that many comic projects have been in development for years and years yet have yet to see the light of day! Well, K.I.A. will see print very soon. There are two remaining hurdles to be overcome- one, to finish the last remaining artworks, and two, to bring together the funds to pay for the book. Both of these stumbling blocks can be handled with some time and careful bartering. In the end, once it's all done, we'll have a 160+ page anthology with some of the top names in local comics... not bad for several months' worth of running around like a headless chicken (as El would say), enlisting artists and writers, chasing up pages and pinups, and saving money like a miser (in between indulging in my Phone Whoredom). Heh.

Anyway, I am looking to concentrate all my efforts on this book by this weekend. Fates willing, we'll have it to the printers late November or early December. Then we'll be working on getting the word out, fixing up a spiffy new webpage for Kai and preparing to unleash our deadly new heroine.

Wait for it. She's coming soon. Promise.

Sunday, November 7

Best. Superhero Movie. Ever.

The Incredibles pose a storm in Pixar's latest blockbuster.

Last night, the gang (Vin, Dean and Gig, Carl, Andrew, Ralph and Yours Truly) trooped to The Podium to watch a special screening of The Incredibles, the latest Pixar animated film. What can I say? All of us agree on one thing- that the Incredibles is simply the Best Superhero Movie we've seen to date. Forget those X-men. Forget Spiderman. Forget Batman. Pixar and director Brad Bird (Iron Giant, The Simpson) shows the big franchises just how it's done.
Telling the story of washed-up superheroes trying to relive former glory after being forced into obscurity, The Incredibles focuses on the adventures of Bob Parr, AKA Mr. Incredible. When he is called back into action by a mysterious woman named Mirage, it launches an action-packed, danger-filled adventure for Bob and his whole family that is nothing short of... INCREDIBLE.
From the character designs to the awesome animations, the locales and settings, the many action sequences, the story and the voice performances, The Incredibles just hits perfectly in all the right places. Not only does this film expertly parody and pay homage to the superhero genre... in several ultra-cool sequences it BLOWS IT OUT OF THE WATER. Director Brad Bird, Pixar and the Incredible cast (Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Jason Lee, Samuel Jackson, Elizabeth Peña, Sarah Vowell and Spencer Fox) have done an awesome job here. A modern masterpiece and instant classic in every way.
The Incredibles marks many firsts for Pixar- it's their first film to star all-human (or superhuman) characters, and is their most mature film (with a PG rating) to date. It's long and often leisurely at 2 hours, which may tax younger viewers. The film though does not lack in action, laughs, thrills and spills. This is a superhero fan's wet dream movie, so you can tell we were all ecstatic.

I can't wait to see this film again in theaters. And then to find the DVD. Easily one of my favorite films of all time now, right up there with the LOTR Trilogy and the Indiana Jones films.