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.